The Briarwood Diamond Buccaneers are hosting Randolph Southern School of Shellman in the first round of the GISA AA state tournament today at Briarwood.
The Bucs, who captured the Region 1AA championship with a win over Westminster Christian School of Watkinsville last Saturday, will face Randolph Southern, the No. 4 school for region three, in a three game series beginning at 1 p.m. today. The second game will follow at 4 p.m. If there is a third game, it will be played at 4 p.m. on Friday, also at Briarwood.
"I don't know anything about them at all, but they were scouting us Saturday," Coach Charlie May said. "We've got a great group of kids, and I've told them that if we can walk on the field and play with a team, we can beat that team. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody. We've got to focus on one game at a time."
The Bucs, despite having the same 8-2 region record as Westminster, went into the region playoffs seeded second to Westminster's first because of a 3-2 Westminster's win over the Bucs in the two team's sole meeting. That number one seed gave Westminster the right to host the region tournament and the home field advantage in the region tournament, which was completed last Saturday in Watkinsville.
With two of the region's top baseball teams (Brentwood School and John Hancock Academy) losing in the first round of play, the Bucs faced Thomas Jefferson Academy in the first game
The Bucs had little trouble defeating the Jaguars 10-0 in five innings.
"That was the most important game because it would give us the home field advantage in the first round of playoffs, and then we could concentrate on the championship game," Coach May said.
Senior Donnie DeMore, now 5-0 for the season, was the starting pitcher in the Bucs win over Thomas Jefferson. DeMore will start for the Bucs in the first playoff game against Randolph Southern.
Senior Josh Gardner went 2-3 for the Bucs with a triple, a double, and three RBI's. Senior Andrew Brown was 3-3 and scored a run. Senior T.J. Mimbs got a double and an RBI.
The Bucs scored their 10 runs on nine hits and had only two errors.
"We were glad to get off the field and out of the heat," Coach May said of the game ending early.
The Bucs had to wait for the consolation game to be played before taking on Westminster the championship game at 4 p.m., on Saturday.
Junior Jason Holley "pitched a great ball game. He only gave up three hits and had eight strike outs," Coach May said.
The first inning was scoreless, but the Bucs came on to score two in the second. Seniors Bob Wills and Josh Gardner scored the game's first runs in the second inning for an early 2-0 lead.
It was the third inning that was the key to the ball game, with two outs, Wills on third and freshman David Russell on first running for catcher T.J.Mimbs, May called for a run-down steal. When the pitcher threw the ball, Russell headed for second. While Westminster was trying to run Russell down between the bases, Wills crossed home plate, scoring what proved to be the winning run.
In the bottom of the third, Westminster provided their only threat. With no outs and two men on base, a Buc outfielder missed a ball that took a bad hop. The two players on base scored and the batter, trying to stretch it to third, was cut down on a relay from freshman Joseph Batrous in the field to shortstop Bob Wills at cutoff to third baseman DeMore, who made the play.
"Holley showed some fortitude by battling it out," Coach May said of the pitcher. "I was proud of him for stepping up and not losing his focus.
"He finished the game strong," May continued. "He faced the top of their lineup in the bottom of the seventh, and he struck out the first two batters. The last batter hit a grounder to Josh, and Josh threw him out at first."
Holley gave up three hits while striking out eight batters against Westminster.
The Bucs scored their three runs on six hits and committed only one error.
Wills led at the bat, going 2-3 and scoring a run. Brown had a double.
Mimbs had an excellent game behind the plate, according to Coach May.
"It's hard enough to catch two ball games in a day, and catching two ball games in the heat is very physically demanding," Coach May said.
If the Bucs win the first round against Randolph Southern, they will host the winner of the Region 4 number two team (Fullington Academy) and the Region 2 number three team on Tuesday, April 27. Game times will be announced later. The "if" game is scheduled for Wednesday, April 28.
Team members include: Kelsey Jones, John Spivey, David Russell, Joseph Batrous, Blake Stitcher, Davis Griffin, Charlie Hall, Seth Williford, Coach Steve Simpson, Will Quinn, Dustin Pilgrim, Bob Wills, Donnie DeMore, T.J. Mimbs, Chandler Harris, Josh Gardner, Jason Holley, Andrew Brown, Brandon Norman, Coach Charlie May.