Coach Merritt Ainslie decided after last year’s first round loss in State Playoff play that he may have overemphasized the importance of a Region Championship, he told us earlier this year. This year, his plan was to win the Region, but put more emphasis on going deep in the playoffs by playing better competition this last week of the season. Let’s hope that strategy pays off for the Bulldogs.
The baseball team took on three excellent teams this past week by scheduling Social Circle, Eastside, and Mountain View High Schools. Although the Dogs came away with only one win in three tries, it’s obvious that the boys will be prepared to take on the much tougher competition outside of Region 8AAA. The three games were played on three consecutive days to sharpen up their skills.
Social Circle is currently ranked number 13 in Class AA and sport an 18-9 overall record while going 8-4 in Region play to finish second behind 9-3 Elbert County. Eastside went 24-4 in the regular season, 15-3 in Region 4AAAA, and now stand in the number 19 spot overall in their classification. Mountain View, in Class 7A is currently ranked 11th in the state in the largest classification with a 20-9 season record while going 12-6 in one of the toughest regions in the state. That’s putting your players up against some excellent competition to make a statement over the next few weeks.
Thursday, the Dogs came away with their lone win out of the three games with a win over Social Circle 4-1. In the second inning, Morgan took first blood after Blake Silvey scored after drawing a walk. The Indians tied things up at one apiece in the bottom of the second before the Dogs took the lead by scoring two in the fourth when Jacob Anderson, who has been hot of late at the plate, ripped a first-pitch home run that accounted for two RBI’s. This is the second time in the past two weeks that the junior right-hander has homered in the same game while getting the win on the mound. He only allowed five hits over six innings of work and struck out seven while walking only one. Silvey got a rare relief appearance on the mound in the seventh to shut down the Circle and take the Dogs home for the final three outs. Hunter Christian’s bat is waking up as he led the Dogs with two hits in three at bats.
Friday, Morgan took on Eastside and again it was a good one. MOCO took the loss 4-2 after the Eagles came up big in a wild first inning scoring three runs off Hunter Lane. After that, Lane settled in and pitched four scoreless innings while getting some solid defense behind him. The first inning included an error that turned out to be a base hit that turned into an out, a pickoff at first after a big turn on a single, a catcher’s interference, and a three-run double for Eastside that scored their first three runs. Figure that one out. Eastside did not score again until the bottom of the sixth to get an insurance run for the win.
The Dogs didn’t score until the fifth when Anderson led off the inning with a double down the left field line. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly from Silvey and scored on another infield sacrifice off the bat of Dominic Arienzo to give Morgan some life trailing 3-1. Morgan made things interesting in the top of the sixth with two outs. Ethan Stamps hit an almost identical shot down the left field line for a double, stole third, and scored on the throwing error to put the Dogs in striking distance at 3-2. However, Morgan went three-up-and-three-down in their at-bat in the seventh and that was the ballgame.
Saturday, Morgan traveled to Lawrenceville to challenge Mountain View. It was another close game that ended 3-1. Similar to Friday’s contest, MOCO fell behind early and couldn’t regain the lead. Mountain View got a run in the second, took the lead and never looked back. Stamps had another strong outing allowing only two hits over five innings while striking out seven in the loss. Hunter Lane went 1-3 at the plate and had the lone RBI for the Bulldogs.
It’s playoff time! The Dogs will now take on the number four seeded team from 7-AAA, East Hall, Thursday in a doubleheader in the first round of the State AAA playoffs. The April 26 start time is scheduled for 4:00. Should Morgan sweep the first two games of the series, they will move onto the second round. If a third game is needed to decide the series that game will be played Friday, Apr 27 at 5:00. As the number one seed out of 8-AAA, Morgan will host all three games of the series.