Crisp Academy coach John Penney praised his team's performance in Game 1 against Bethlehem on Friday -- a 6-1 Wildcats win --- but after seven errors, said his guys "stunk it up" in Game 2, despite the 9-7 victory.
BETHLETHEM — The GISA Class A defending state champion Crisp Academy Wildcats are back in the title series after eliminating the No. 1-ranked team in the state Friday, Bethlehem Christian, 6-1, in Game 1 and 9-7 in Game 2.
“The kids were happy and very excited,” Crisp coach John Penney said. “But they know we have to go next week and take care of the last bit of business.”
Crisp now awaits the winner of Westwood-David Emanuel. Westwood won Game 1 on Friday, and if the Wildcats can finish off the series today, it will set up a rematch of last year’s state title series — which Crisp won in a sweep — next weekend in Camilla. If DEA comes back to win, Crisp must travel to Stillmore.
But Penney knows that regardless of where Crisp ends up playing next week for its second straight Class A crown, his team will need to look more like it did in Game 1 than Game 2.
“We stunk it up (in Game 2),” the coach said of his team’s staggering seven errors it committed in the nightcap, compared to zero in the opener. “Seven errors (won’t cut it).”
In Game 1, James Bodrey — last year’s winning pitcher in the title-clinching game who has been lights out so far in the playoffs — went the distance by allowing just three hits, while striking out eight. Crisp, meanwhile, posted six runs on 10 hits, including two from Jordan Howard and Hunter Chambers, who also notched two RBI in the win. Crisp scored three runs in the top of the third, then Bethlehem answered in the bottom of the inning to get on the board.
But it was all Crisp from there.
The Wildcats — who share the same nickname with their counterparts from Westwood — then added two more runs in the fifth and one in the seventh to close it out.
And while Crisp (17-9) went from near-perfect in Game 1 to perfectly sloppy in Game 2, the Wildcats got some help from first-year GISA program Bethlehem (19-4) when it committed three errors of its own to open the door. Crisp scored nine runs on 10 hits, while Bethelhem got its seven runs on just three hits as it took advantage of those Wildcat errors to keep the game close. In fact, Bethlehem led, 4-1, going into the third inning, but Crisp scored twice to narrow the gap to 4-3, then took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth when it put four more on the board — and never looked back.
Rush Brown pitched five innings and got the win after allowing just one hit and striking out six. Howard, who had two RBI in the nightcap, then came on and worked the last two as he gave up two hits and struck out four.
Blaine Phillips and Robbie Wright each had two hits in Game 2, with one of Wright’s being a double to go along with two RBI, and Jake Smith added two RBI.
Cordele Dispatch sports editor Harvey Simpson and Herald sports editor Danny Aller contributed to this report.