The Briarwood Academy Diamond Buccaneers opened the season with only nine healthy players and a 7-2 win over Augusta Prep last week at Briarwood.
"Overall, I was really excited with the way they played, and I'm looking forward to the season. We showed great potential, especially to have so many young players," Coach Kevin Cowart said of the team's season opener.
The 2009 Diamond Bucs have only 11 players, including two eighth graders, but are strongest in the all important position of pitcher.
The team's three seniors - Cane Gilmer, Jonathan Gay, and Ryan Gerlach - will be pitching as will junior Adam Hardy. All three seniors pitched for the Bucs last season as juniors.
The nine healthy Bucs who opened the season included Gilmer as pitcher, junior Adam Hardy as catcher, freshman Will Souther at first base, freshman Spencer Hadden at second base, freshman Dalton Reese at shortstop, senior Jonathan Gay at third base, senior Ryan Gerlach in left field, junior Matthew McElveen in centerfield, and eighth grader Jarrett Keen in right field.
Junior Eric Johnson is recovering from shoulder surgery for a football injury, and eighth grader Colt Phelps is recovering from an ankle injury suffered during basketball season.
"We're playing with nine, but we're doing fine," said Cowart, who added that he doesn't know when the two recuperating players will be able to join the team.
Gilmer opened the 2009 season pitching for the Bucs and "did a fantastic job, especially for his first game on the mound," according to Coach Cowart.
Gilmer had 17 strike-outs, allowed only four hits and gave up only one walk. He pitched all seven innings in the opening win of the season.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning when the Bucs scored three runs.
McElveen started the rally by reaching first after being hit by a pitch. He stole second and then advanced to third on Gerlach's single to right field. Reese grounded out to the shortstop, but got an RBI when McElveen scored. With Gerlach on second, Gilmer singled to left field and Gerlach advanced to third. Gerlach scored the game's second run and Gilmer moved to second on a wild pitch by the Prep pitcher. Gilmer stole third base and then scored the third run of the inning on another wild pitch by the Prep pitcher.
Taking advantage of a throwing error and a double, Prep scored their only runs of the game in the top of the fifth. Up 3-2, the Bucs added another run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Gerlach reached base on a single to left field and then scored on Gilmer's double.
The Bucs held Prep scoreless in the top of the sixth inning and then back in the bottom of the inning to score three runs, upping their lead to 7-2. Hardy led off with a single on a fly ball deep in left centerfield. Hadden singled to the shortstop and reached first, but Hardy was thrown out on the fielder's choice. Souther singled to left field, advancing Hadden to second base. With runners on first and second, McElveen walked to load the bases. On yet another wild pitch by the Prep pitcher, Hadden scored and Souther and McElveen advanced to second and third base. Keen singled to right field to score Souther. McElveen scored the game's final run, stealing home on a wild pitch.
Gerlach led the Bucs at the play, going three-for-four with two singles. He was followed by Hadden, who went two-for-three with two singles, and Gilmer, who was two-for-four with a double, a single and two RBI's.
The Bucs will play their first GISA Region 1A contest of the season at 4 p.m. this Friday, March 13, when they host David Emanuel Academy of Stillmore. The Bucs are scheduled to travel to Waynesboro on Saturday, March 14, for a 3 p.m. contest with Edmund Burke Academy. They will play another Region 1A contest at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, when they host Thomas Jefferson Academy of Louisville.