But the senior made sure that play was a distant memory by night’s end as his Villa Rica High School baseball team fought back from multiple deficits for a 5-4 victory against Bowdon at the V-Plex.
“Being able to come back from that, coach having faith in me to come back after I made a mistake, it was really big for him having faith in all our guys and knowing what we’re capable of doing,” Adair said.
In fact, just before that play, Adair had a two-run double. But it was his effort on the mound, pitching three scoreless innings in the fifth, sixth and seventh — surrendering only two hits and striking out three — that may have been his most important contribution.
“My heart was pounding, man. The adrenaline was going crazy,” Adair said. “I don’t normally pitch in those kind of situations.”
VR coach Jay Sneddon was proud of his senior’s bounce-back from the early-game miscue and his grit in finishing the game on the mound.
“At the end of the game, you know, I had a decision to make, and I decided to leave it in his hands and let him take care of it,” Sneddon said. “And he shut the door on them. I’m proud of him. He came in, threw three shutout innings and got the win. It was a gutsy performance.”
Bowdon coach Stephen Mitchell credited the Cats’ pitching staff and defense for a solid effort.
“Their pitchers threw strikes, made us put it in play and played a good defensive ball game,” Mitchell said.
The Red Devils jumped to a 2-0 edge after half an inning when Josh Stapler scored on a wild pitch and Josh Jennings came across as Wildcat catcher Alex Myatt’s throw to first to try to finish a double play was off-target.
Adair’s big hit in the bottom of the second knotted the game at 2-2 before Stapler launched a home run to center field in the top of the third to put the Red Devils back out in front at 3-2.
Even out of the ninth spot in the lineup, Adair had confidence in his bat.
“Batting in the nine hole, they think you’re just there because you’re the last guy,” Adair said. “But we’re solid one through nine.”
In the bottom of the third, Andrew Witte drew a walk before Alexander Morgan entered as his courtesy runner. A stolen base and a groundout moved Morgan to third before Byron Whitmarsh drew a two-out walk.
With runners on first and third, Villa Rica (4-0) perfectly executed a delayed steal, with Whitmarsh taking second and Morgan scoring to tie it 3-3.
Second baseman Drew Roberts then lifted a 2-2 pitch to left-center field for a two-out home run to make it 4-3 in Bowdon’s favor in the top of the fourth.
“We were fortunate enough to get a couple long balls to keep us in the game,” Mitchell said. “But I felt like we were a little bit complacent once we got a lead, but like I said, their pitchers had a lot to do with that.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Chance Elsberry reached on a two-out error by Roberts, keeping the inning alive and advancing Bradley Younker, who entered for Brandon Ellis after Ellis walked, to third base. On a wild pitch, Younker scored to tie it back up at 4-4.
“We’re a small-ball team. We’ve got to manufacture runs,” Adair said. “We’re never going to overpower anybody, but like I said, we’re one-through-nine strong. So as long as we work as a team, we’ve got it. We can beat anybody.”
Elsberry and Witte each pitched a pair of innings and gave up two runs each for the Wildcats before Adair took the hill for the final three innings.
The tight contest came down to a fly ball off Philip Marino’s bat, which scored Morgan — pinch-running for Witte, who was hit by a pitch — from second when Jordon Loveless dropped the ball in right field in the bottom of the sixth.
“You hate to see that for either team for a game to be decided by something like that, but fortunately for us, this time it fell our way in that inning,” Sneddon said. “You know, we made a couple mistakes earlier that gave them a couple of runs, so just right there, we got the break and they didn’t.”
In the top of the seventh, Adair kept it simple for his team — setting down the 4-5-6 hitters in the Red Devil lineup 1-2-3 to earn the win.
“(Sneddon) told me if I could get them to the seventh, he would let me throw the seventh,” Adair said.
Sneddon said facing a traditionally-tough team like Bowdon will only help his guys later in the season.
“I told our kids that this is going to be a good test for us down the road, that we needed to see somebody like Bowdon before we start region play,” Sneddon said.
And after his guys’ first loss of the season, Mitchell is looking forward to fixing some of the problems his team had Monday.
“We’re going to go back to work, and we’ll try to get it right,” Mitchell said.
Correction: Elsberry’s name was misspelled in Sunday’s baseball roundup. We apologize for the error.