The Briarwood Diamond Buccaneers came up with a big Region 1AA win when they slipped by Gatewood School of Eatonton 3-2 last Thursday at Briarwood.
After region losses to Piedmont and Brentwood, the win over Gatewood, the Bucs' second over the Gators, puts the team back in a position to win the region title.
Briarwood's John Spivey takes a swing during a game last week.
"We have as good a team as anyone in the region," Coach Kenny Haney said. "We're still in good shape. If we sweep out, we can still win the title."
Now 5-2 in region play with four region games remaining on the schedule, the Bucs will have to win their return matches with Brentwood in Sandersville on Monday, April 10, and with Piedmont at Briarwood on Monday, April 17, in order to take the region title. Currently the only undefeated teams in region play, Brentwood and Piedmont have yet to play each other.
Gatewood jumped out to an early 1-0 first inning lead on a dark, dismal afternoon last Thursday at Briarwood. Gatewood walked to load the bases and then scored their first run on a passed ball before the Bucs got the third out with the bases loaded.
Gatewood held onto that lead until the bottom of the third when Seth Williford opened the Bucs' third at bat with a single. Next up, Ethan DeMore singled, pushing Williford to second. Williford stole third and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Joseph Batrous to tie the game at 1-1 before the Bucs went down for the inning.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth when Cane Gilmer reached first after being hit by a pitch. Gilmer stole second and then, with two outs, scored when DeMore singled to right field.
Gatewood loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and final inning. The Gators scored one run to tie the game at 2-2. With two outs and the bases loaded, Pilgrim caught a Gator's line drive to right field to end the inning with three Gators left on base.
With only the bottom of the seventh left to win the game in regulation play, senior Will Quinn, pinch-hitting, singled. Blake Stitcher came into the game to run for Quinn, and Williford came to the plate. Williford walked. DeMore sacrificed to advance Stitcher to third and Williford to second. With two outs and runners on second and third, the Gators intentionally walked Batrous, setting the Bucs' next batter, Pilgrim, up with the bases loaded and two outs. Pilgrim, who was 0-3 at the plate for the game, came up with a single to center to win the ball game for the Bucs.
"I can't say enough good things about Joseph Batrous," said Coach Haney of the Buc junior who took the mound in the top of the third to pitch five strong innings for the Bucs.
The Bucs had an easy time of it last week with winless Curtis Baptist, taking the region victory 13-3 in five innings.
Williford led the game off by getting hit by a pitch to reach first base. DeMore drove a grounder between short and third base to push Williford to second while he reached first safely. Both Williford and DeMore, who had stolen second and third respectively, scored when Batrous singled to left field. Pilgrim walked. Batrous stole second and third and then scored the Bucs' third and final run of first inning on a ground ball up the middle by David Russell.
The Bucs remained up 3-0 until the bottom of the third when the Briarwood players came up to bat again. The Bucs put together six singles to score five runs and take an 8-0 lead into the top of the fourth. Williford led off by singling and then stealing his way to third. Batrous singled. Pilgrim singled and scored Williford. Russell singled and scored Batrous. Jacob Gay singled to score Pilgrim and then stole second, giving the Bucs runners on second and third. Stitcher's ground out to second scored Russell and Gay. Spivey followed with another single. Chris Gerlach, running for Stitcher, stole two bases and then scored the Bucs fifth run of the inning on a passed ball.
With the score at 8-0 and the Bucs at the plate in the bottom of the fourth, the Bucs added three more runs. Leadoff batter Batrous tripled to left center field. Pilgrim walked and then stole second. Russell loaded the bases when he reached first by being hit by a pitch. Carl Chapman doubled to left field to empty the bases, scoring three runs and upping the Bucs' lead to 11-0.
Stitcher, who pitched through the fourth inning, didn't give up any runs. He was credited with seven strikeouts, no walks and only two hits.
Curtis scored all three of their runs in the top of the fifth.
Williford was first up in the bottom of the fifth with a single. Gerlach singled. Batrous "hammered" a hard line drive at the shortstop, who couldn't handle the hit. With two outs and the bases loaded, Chapman ended the game with a ground ball hit between first and second. As Williford, Gerlach and Batrous crossed the plate, the umpire called the game on the 10-run run rule before Chapman could reach second.
The Bucs, who will take to the road for all of next week's games, were scheduled to travel to Forsyth Monday, March 27, to face Monroe Academy in a region match up and to Augusta on Tuesday, March 28, to play Augusta Christian Academy in a non-region game.
The Bucs will travel to Sandersville on Monday, April 10, for their second game with Brentwood. Brentwood defeated the Bucs by one, 6-5, earlier in the season in a game marked by controversy. The Bucs must beat Briarwood to have a shot at the Region 1AA title.