No. 1 seed Seminole looks to continue amazing 2011 season

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DONALSONVILLE -- The green light is always on for Seminole County, where the Indians might just hit-and-run their way all the way to a Class A state baseball title.

"We don't have a pitcher who can throw 90, and we don't have a guy who hits 15 home runs. We're not a great team, but we're a pretty good one,'' said Seminole coach Truette Johnson, who has been the Indians' baseball coach for 10 years.

And pretty darn fast.

Fast enough to steal a state title?

That's what they hope to find out, starting today when the Indians open the Class A state tournament with a doubleheader against Savannah Christian at 3 p.m. at home.

The green light will be turned on about 2:55.

"We don't have a green light,'' said Johnson, whose team will play Game 2 immediately after Game 1 today, while Game 3, if necessary, will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. "It's always on. I don't give them a green light. I just give them a red light once in a while.''

That's how Seminole has run off a 22-2 record, a record that has only been blemished by a pair of losses to a Class AAAAA school from Alabama. The Indians are undefeated in the Peach State.

They've stolen 100 bases (in 107 attempts) in those 24 games and have scored 209 runs. The team batting average is .370, and they've got five players hitting over .400. They don't wait for the long ball. They don't wait for anything.

"We're a scrappy bunch,'' said Sam Buczek, one of only two seniors and the ace of the staff. "We'll make you earn it if you want to beat us.''

Just ask Baconton Charter, a Class A powerhouse that had Seminole down 5-1 in the seventh inning at home last week. The Indians scored six in the seventh and won, 7-5.

"That game kind of set the tone for us going into the playoffs,'' Buczek said. "We're trying to feed off that last big game against Savannah Christian. We feel like if we can get past this first round then we have a legitimate shot to win it all.''

Seminole hasn't won a state title since 1970. None of the kids on this team was born. Heck, Johnson, who is 34, wasn't even born.

"We know it's been a long time since we've won it, but that makes it special because it hasn't been done since 1970,'' said Josh Buczek, Sam's junior brother who plays shortstop and pitches. "We really didn't know what kind of team we would have when the season started, but everyone has stepped up and we've really come together this year.''

It's been more than a good time, it's been a 24-game joyride because of the team's success and the Indians' style of play.

"This group is fun,'' Johnson said. "Every time you come to the ballpark it's exciting.''

Johnson has seven football players on his team, and they all can fly. Chris Brown, a first baseman who gained more than 2,000 yards as a running back, has stolen 20 of 21 bases, and Dee Virgin, a lightning-quick cornerback who plays second, is also 20-for-21 in steals. Josh Buczek is 12-of-13.

The Indians don't just steal, they steal runs, always putting pressure on the other team with hits to all fields, bunts and hit-and-runs.

"We find a way to score,'' Johnson said. We've never been a team that stole bases, but we've got seven football players who bring that game to the baseball field. We have a bunch of guys who put the ball in play, and we do the little things. We bunt and steal and put pressure on the other team. If we're playing right it really frustrates other teams, because if you make an error to put a guy on first, the next thing you know we're at third base trying to score.''

Josh Buczek has six homers and Brown and Virgin have hit five each, but the leading run producers are Sam Buczek (31 RBI) and Justin Burke (27 RBI). Sam Buczek is 6-0 with a 1.96 ERA, and Burke is 8-1 with a 2.19 ERA. They both catch when the other is pitching.

Josh Buczek is 2-0 with three saves with a 3.38 ERA. Josh leads the team in hitting with a .574 average, and Burke is hitting .565. Sam Buczek (.473), Virgin (.440) and Quan Jones (.435) are all hitting above .400.

"We've been playing together since we were about 10 years old,'' Sam Buczek said. "We played against each other in the rec league, and then every year we would all be on the all-star team.

"We've stuck together, and we don't let each other down,'' he said. "We've been together so long we have a bond, a camaraderie that's tight.''

Brown agreed.

"We've been together so long as a team that we believe anything can happen,'' said Brown, a junior.

But is it their time?

"We've had teams with better talent,'' Johnson said. "But this is the best record we've ever had. We've got some real good kids and they play real good baseball. They always say good pitching beats good hitting. We're in the playoffs, and we'll just have to see ... "