Diamond Dogs top Wilkes
By Greg Sullivan
These Tigers were better than the Greene County Tigers the Dogs had seen the week before, and if you believe in omens this one looked early on like it could be going in the wrong direction last Wednesday in Madison.
Washington-Wilkes got a lead-off solo homer to start things off against Morgan County pitcher Clay Duvall en route to a three-run first inning, leaving the Dogs to play catch up.
But Duvall showed something that may prove to be helpful to the Dogs in the post-season; perseverance. And his teammates followed suit.
"I tried to pitch my hardest," said Duvall. "I knew this was a huge region game. I knew we had to win."
After a rocky first inning where he gave up three earned runs, Duvall gave up no more earned runs for the remainder of the game on his way to the win he was looking for, and it was a grueling 7-inning complete game win, which is about as hard-earned as it gets at the high school level.
After putting up two runs in the first inning and one in the second, the Dogs' offense had things evened up going into the bottom of the third inning. And in the bottom of the third the Dogs wrestled away control of the game.
With two outs in the third and two runners on, the Dogs' Kyle Burden made up his mind to not let Wilkes find an easy way out of the inning.
Burden connected with a pitch and sent the ball out beside the telephone pole behind the left field fence.
"I just wanted to get a hit," said Burden. "It felt good."
He did get a hit; a three-run homer. The blast ignited a big inning for the Dogs, who would go on to get two more runs with two outs in the inning on their way to posting five runs in the third. With the big third inning behind them the Dogs went on to an 8-6 win in the crucial region match-up.
J.D. Hawkins, Tyler Ward and Clay Duvall all had two hits in the Dogs' win. Bobby Patrick and Josh Blackburn added a hit apiece.
"Offensively, we performed well up and down the line-up," said Bulldog Head Coach Brandon Patch. "Of course, Kyle's three-run homer proved to be the difference. He really came up big when we needed him. He stayed back really well and put a nice swing on it. He really crushed it."
The Dogs allowed three unearned runs in the fourth inning, but overall the defense looked good.
"The defense did an outstanding job of making plays behind [Duvall]," Patch said. "Bobby Patrick was like a vacuum cleaner at first. He made some really nice scoops for us."
The win helped the Dogs out in the region standing where Washington-Wilkes is still in the mix for second place with the Dogs and Oglethorpe coming into this week.
North Oconee 9, Dogs 0:
The Dogs met a team on a roll Friday at North Oconee and there would be no slowing down the Titans as the Dogs fell 9-0.
Morgan County struggled offensively, managing just two base hits, both off the bat of Bobby Patrick.
Olin Watkins, Caleb Duvall, Parker Cline and Dylan Jaskowiak all saw time on the mound for the Dogs in the loss, but the team couldn't limit North Oconee's hitters.
Meanwhile, the Titans, who are 12-0 in region play, have wrapped up the regular season region title. The victory over Morgan County, where they had homers from Taylor Hicks and Angelo Lombardo, extended their winning streak to 13.
With first place out of reach, at least for the regular season, the Dogs turned their sights to second place as they visited Oglethorpe on Tuesday.
Going into Tuesday's game, Wilkes, Oglethorpe and the Dogs were all tied for second place in the region.
"The objective is to get the highest seed possible going into the region tournament, then anything can happen," Patch said.
Region tournament play gets started on April 25.