The Briarwood Diamond Buccaneers could take sole possession of the number one spot in the race for the Region 1AA championship this weekend when they face the only other undefeated teams in the region.
The Bucs will host Brentwood School of Sandersville at 4 p.m. this Friday and then travel to Monticello on Saturday to face Piedmont Academy at 1 p.m.
At the beginning of this week, four teams were undefeated and tied for the top spot in the Region 1AA race. The Bucs defeated Gatewood 10-4 Monday in Eatonton.In play next week, the Bucs will host Augusta Prep at 4 p.m. on Monday, March 20, in a non-region game. They will host region foe Curtis Baptist School at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21.
The Bucs are developing a strong pitching staff, according to Coach Kenny Haney, who said the Bucs will need all of their pitchers when they reach the playoffs.
Buc pitchers for this season, all of whom have already seen time on the mound, are seniors Blake Stitcher and Dustin Pilgrim, juniors David Russell and Seth Williford, and freshman Cane Gilmer. Junior Joseph Batrous will see his time on the mound as a "strong" closer for the Bucs.
Pilgrim and Batrous were named Diamond Buc Players of the Week last week for their outstanding play.
The Bucs, 3-0 in region play, "played the best game we've play all year, by far," in their win over Gatewood, according to Coach Kenny Haney.
"We finally got the pitching, the defense and the sticks together at the same time. We made a few base-running mistakes, but I can live with aggressive base-running mistakes," Coach Haney said.
Stitcher, now 3-0 on the mound for the Bucs, struck out 12 Gators, while pitching the full seven-innings of the game.
The Bucs played sound baseball, parlaying 12 singles into 10 runs for the win.
In the top of the first, leadoff Williford singled. Ethan DeMore got hit by the ball to make it to first base. With two outs, both Russell and Pilgrim singled to drive in Williford and DeMore for an early 2-0 lead.
Gatewood scored one run in the first and one in the second to cut the Bucs' lead to 3-2 by the beginning of the third inning.
In the top of the third, Williford again led off with a single. DeMore walked. Pilgrim hit another single, scoring Williford. Also, again, Russell singled and DeMore scored. With Pilgrim and Russell on base, Jacob Gay singled. Taking advantage of Gatewood errors, Pilgrim and Russell scored while Gay didn't slow down until he reached third base. Stitcher's "perfect squeeze" sacrificed Gay home for the Bucs' fifth run in the third inning.
With the score at 7-2 in the top of the fourth, John Spivey led off for the Bucs with a single. Williford hit his third single of the night, scoring Spivey. DeMore sacrificed and picked up his second RBI when Williford scored. The Gators scored another run in the bottom of the fourth.
With the score at 9-2 in the top of the fifth, the Bucs scored one more time. Gay walked and stole second. Will Quinn singled to bring Gay home for the final run of the game.
Williford led the Bucs at bat, going three-for-four at the plate and scoring two runs. Pilgrim and Russell both were two-for-four and accounted for two RBIs. Spivey was two-for-three at the plate. Although he only got one hit for three times at the plate, DeMore got on base when a pitch hit him, and he sacrificed to bring in a run.
With a .625 batting average, Pilgrim is leading the Bucs at the plate.
"He's coming through like a senior's supposed to," Coach Haney said of Pilgrim. "Every time he's come to bat and someone is on base, he somehow manages to get them home."
Pilgrim is followed at the plate by Russell and Williford, who are both averaging .438 at the plate, and Batrous and Demore, who are averaging. 300 at the plate.
Freshman Gilmer earned the first varsity win of his career, pitching four strong innings in the Bucs' 7-6 win over Central Fellowship Academy last Saturday in Macon.
Gilmer came to the mound in the fourth inning to relieve Williford, who pitched for the first time in two years.
The Bucs had a strong offensive day. Batrous led going three-for-four at the plate, followed by Pilgrim going two-for-two with three RBIs, DeMore going two-for-four, and Russell going one-for-three with two RBIs.
The teams ended the first inning tied at 2-2. The Bucs went up 4-2 in the third, and then dropped back by one run, 5-4, in the top of the fourth.
The Bucs came alive in the seventh inning, scoring three runs for a 7-4 lead. Batting in the number one spot in the lineup, Williford reached first base on an error. Up next, DeMore got his second hit of the game. With runners on first and second, Batrous doubled down the line to bring in Williford. With two outs and runners on second and third, Russell singled to center field to score DeMore and Batrous and give the Bucs a 7-5 lead in the top of the seventh.
The Bucs allowed Central Fellowship only one run in the bottom of the seventh, hanging on to win the game 7-6.
Senior pitcher Pilgrim pitched seven strong innings, giving up only two unearned runs in the Bucs' 6-5 region win over Monroe Academy of Forsyth last Friday at Briarwood.
The Bucs were down 3-0 when they went to bat in the bottom of the second. Five hits, two walks, and three outs later, the Bucs were up 6-3.
Monroe chipped slowly away at the Bucs' lead, adding a run in the third, fourth, and then a final one in the top of the seventh to tie the score at 6-6.
With the game tied and the Bucs at bat in the bottom of the seventh, catcher John Spivey singled to reach base. Chris Gerlach, running for Spivey, scored the game-winning run on a hit by Williford.
Williford led the Bucs on offense, going 2-for-3 with two singles and two RBIs to his credit. Bucs with one hit included Gay, Batrous, Russell, Will Quinn, and DeMore.
The most outstanding defensive play of the game was a running catch in right field by junior Charlie Hall.
1) bucs baseball1 -- cutline: Briarwood Senior Dustin Pilgrim fires a pitch against Monroe last week.
2) bucs baseball2 -- cutline: Briarwood Senior Blake Stitcher takes a cut during last week's game against Monroe Academy.