Bearcat baseball finds a stride late in season

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Coming off of a loss last Tuesday to an out of state contender, the Bearcat baseball team seemed to be skidding out of control. They were sitting under .500 on the season as their games were numbered and the play offs were looming in question.

Something clicked after the loss last week, and the Bearcats have since hit their stride. Winning three in a row, two to region foe Warner Robins and one to Tift County, the Bearcats have clinched their place in the playoffs and have built momentum heading into their final games.

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The doubleheader series against Warner Robins on Friday, April 7, was dominated by the Bearcats. The Bearcats won the first game 11-1 and the second game 10-0 for an aggregate score of 21-1.

In game one, the Bearcats and the Demons were tied heading into the third. Bainbridge’s offense exploded for seven runs in the inning thanks to consistent batting and two errors on Warner Robins ends.

In the next inning, Warner Robins scored their lone run. Bainbridge went on to score four more runs to put the game away and 10 run-rule the Demons.

Game two was much of the same. The Bearcats jumped up on the Demons, scoring a run in each of the six innings the game went to.

The difference between the second game and the first was the shutout that came from Bearcat pitcher Nick Barber.

“I thought our guys did a very good job of understanding what was at stake in these games,” said head coach Brian McCorkle. “We made just came out focused and ready to go. I thought our approach at the plate Friday night was as good as it has been all year.”

The wins on Friday against Warner Robins officially clinched a playoff spot for the Bearcats.

The Bearcats took to the field on Monday following the two wins to face Tift County. Bainbridge almost squandered their lead, but managed to fight off the upset to beat Tift 8-7.

In the first inning, Keith Lyle sent a ball flying over the left field fence for a three run home run to go up 3-0 in the first inning. Later in the inning, a single from Dalton Harrell scored Will Kelley to put the Bearcats up 4-0.

In the top of the second, Keith Lyle sent another ball sailing over the left field fence for a two run home run to put the Bearcats up 6-0.

With the game seemingly wrapped up, Tift County rallied in the bottom of the third to put five runs on the board and shrink Bainbridge’s lead to 6-5.

In the top of the fifth, Bainbridge was able to tack on two more runs to give themselves a little more breathing room. The Bearcats led 8-5.

In the sixth, Tift put on two runs that brought the score to one run again, but Bainbridge was able to hold on for the 8-7 victory.

“We’re playing pretty good defense right now,” said McCorkle. “When a ball is hit, we feel like it’s going to be caught or fielded. That sticks out, but our approach at the plate is the main thing that sticks out, but defensively we’ve been really solid.”

The Bearcats have three more games this week. They face Tift County on Wednesday then a doubleheader against Cairo on Friday for senior night. A challenge for the Bearcats will be to focus on winning out the rest of the regular season instead of looking ahead to their first round opponent, which is looking like Starr’s Mill High School, who sits at 21-3 and 15-0 in their region.

“Our kids are excited,” said McCorkle about the playoffs. “It’s back to back years so we feel like we’re building momentum for these things. We’re trying to build where we’re one of those perennial playoff teams.”

As far as keeping players focused, McCorkle doesn’t think there will be an issue.

“If we were going to have a lapse, it would have been Monday night,” said McCorkle, “so I don’t think that will happen.”