Truette Johnson's Seminole County baseball team has gone a remarkable 47-9 during the past two seasons, with four of those losses coming in the state playoffs.
DONALSONVILLE — Go ahead and look around at combined records for the last two seasons for all classifications of Georgia public school baseball teams, and you’ll likely not find very many that’ve had two years as good as Seminole County.
But sure enough, for the second year in a row, the Indians are the Heartbreak Kids, headed home early from the state tournament.
They’ve gone 47-9 during the past two seasons — and four of those losses came in the state playoffs. On Friday, Seminole suffered the second of two tough losses to Schley County, which won the do-or-die Game 3, 14-9, to advance to the Elite 8 round of the Class A state tournament.
“I just told the kids I was proud of them and that I loved them,” said Truette Johnson, the Indians’ coach for the last 12 seasons. “They’re a good group, and I appreciate all they did for us. They’re competitors more than anything.”
Seminole won Game 1 on Thursday, 5-3, then lost Game 2, 7-2, which forced Game 3 on Friday. Seminole liked its chances because Johnson had shrewdly saved his No. 2 pitcher, Josh Buczek, just in case the Indians needed him.
But the senior had a rough day Friday as he “missed his spots, and we didn’t play good defense behind him,” Johnson said.
Buczek, one of the team’s six senior leaders, probably wishes he could redo Friday’s performance — especially the fourth inning. That’s when, with Seminole leading, 5-4, he was rocked for a three-run triple and a two-run home run as Schley County blew the game wide open.
“They went up 12-5 after that,” the coach said.
Buczek struck out just four in the losing effort, although he and teammate Chris Brown each finished with two hits and Brown also notched three RBI. One of Brown’s hits was a home run, while Jakhari Martin also added a homer and two RBI for Seminole and Justin Elijah knocked a double and had an RBI.
Johnson said he was beyond disappointed not to be advancing to the Elite 8 — a spot the program hasn’t been to in so long no one in Donalsonville seems to remember the last time it happened. A year ago, the Indians looked like they had all the makings of a state title contender, but were eliminated in the first round by private school juggernaut Calvary Day.
The good news? Seminole won’t have to see private school powerhouses like that starting next season.
“I like that it’s going to be a level playing field (in 2013),” said Johnson, eluding to the recent rule change by the GHSA to split the Class A public and private schools into two different state championship divisions starting next season. “It’s disappointing that we’ve had some really good teams the last few years that I felt could’ve won a state title, but then we wind up facing these private schools (who seem to always beat us).”
Schley (19-10), of course, is a Class A public school — and a darn good one at that. The Wildcats fell behind, 2-0, in Game 2 and rallied by scoring seven unanswered runs, then fell behind three times Friday before finally erupting with that seven-run fifth inning.
Seminole will lose Buczek, Chris Brown, Justin Burke, Hudson Hanna, Dee Virgin and Hunter Hornsby, though Johnson doesn’t think the state’s heard the last of Seminole.
“We’ve had two really great years, but I think we’re going to be competitive next year again,” said Johnson, whose team finishes 23-5.
GISA CLASS AA ELITE 8
SANDERSVILLE — The Terrell Academy baseball team dropped Game 1 of its GISA Class AA Elite 8 state playoff series Friday, 10-6, against Brentwood and will have to win Game 2 today at noon against the state’s No. 1-ranked Class AA team.
The Eagles jumped out early, 2-0, but Brentwood tied it up, 2-2, in the second inning. Terrell took the lead back, 3-2, in the third, but Brentwood tacked on a five-spot in the bottom of the third and “never looked back,” TAE coach Ashley Walker said.
Kyle Stratton took the loss as he fell to 0-2 in state playoff series after giving up two home runs and allowed a total of nine hits and 10 runs.
TAE’s top hitters were Logan Maxwell (2-for-3, 3 runs scored) and Clint Smith (three RBI).
GISA CLASS A ELITE 8
CORDELE — Do they even need to play Game 2?
Well, GISA rules state that they do, but after defending GISA Class A state champ Crisp Academy demolished Westminster, 15-0, in four innings on Friday in the opener of the teams’ Elite 8 best-of-three series, the Wildcats could arguably go ahead and make plans for later this afternoon following the 10 a.m. Game 2 — and there’s little chance they’ll have to break them.
Crisp ace James Bodrey, who finished with eight strikeouts, mowed down Westminster’s starting lineup Friday, allowing no hits through three innings before the no-no was broken up by a lone single from Joe Zehna in the top of the fourth. Then Crisp closed the game out by reaching the magic number of 15 to end the game by run-rule in the bottom of the inning.
Crisp’s Jordan Howard belted a three-run homer — giving him a team-high six for the season — and finished with four RBI, while Robbie Wright added two hits.
The winner of the series will face Bethlehem Christian next week after Bethlehem swept Randolph Southern on Friday, 11-1 and 5-0.
The Patriots struggled all day to find offense against a 19-2 Bethlehem team, whose pitchers allowed just five total hits between the two games. Randolph Southern didn’t help matters by striking out a total of 21 times.
Grant Kimbrel, the team’s only senior, gave it his all in Game 2, striking out nine and allowing just six hits, but it wasn’t enough as RSS finishes the season 8-15.