Former Crisp Academy baseball star James Bodrey lost his life in an ATV accident late last year, but his teammates have honored the memory of his life all season by dedicating this year's state title run to their one-time ace.
Deerfield, Randolph Southern open GISA state playoffs with first-round sweeps; Sherwood, SGA fall
ALBANY — Deerfield’s first-round sweep in the GISA Class AAA state tournament Friday sure looked easy — at least from the bleachers.
But if you ask DWS coach Rod Murray, he would not agree.
“There wasn’t anything easy about it,” said Murray said. “Dominion brought it.”
Despite an inspired effort by the visiting Knights of Dominion Christian, Deerfield exploded in the fifth inning to complete a sweep in a doubleheader, notching 4-0 and 14-4 victories to advance.
After a shutout win to start the series, Game 2 was far closer. After stranding three Dominion runners on base at the bottom of the fourth, Deerfield clung to a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth, looking to tack on some insurance runs.
That’s when the Knights of Albany unleashed.
A Justin Glover RBI double, a Davis Long RBI single and two fielding errors later, and suddenly, the home Knights held a 9-4 lead with only one out. To the visitors’ dismay, however, the barrage wasn’t over.
When it was all said and done, the Knights scored nine runs in the fifth in inning to take a 14-4 lead and force the umpires to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
In the nightcap, Ryan Toole led Deerfield batters, going 3-for-4 with five RBI, including a base-clearing, three-run double in the fifth inning to put the game well out of reach for the visitors. Justin Glover added a 3-for-4 outing with a double.
In Game 1, the Knights cruised thanks to UGA signee and DWS shortstop Harris Webb.
“It was a heck of a ball game. Harris had been on base all day, being patient to find a good pitch to hit. We finally got in the situation where they had to throw him a strike, and he didn’t miss,” Murray said.
Coleman Butler drove Webb in on a double in the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth, Webb launched a Riley Howard pitch over the centerfield wall for a three-run homer that all but clinched the game for the Knights.
Despite the shutout, Deerfield left seven runners stranded on base in the first game, and the Knights committed their fair share of errors as well.
“On a few of those, we just tried a little too hard in those situations and didn’t get the job done,” Murray said, vowing to correct those mistakes for Deerfield’s second-round series against the winner of Westfield and Augusta Prep.
Weston King pitched a complete game in the opener, allowing just three hits, while recording two strikeouts.
RANDOPLH SOUTHERN EXTENDS SEASON: The Patriots routed Nathanael Greene on Friday in the first round of the GISA Class A state tournament, winning Game 1, 11-1, in five innings, then rolling in Game 2, 16-6, in six innings.
More importantly, however, Randolph Southern extended its season by one more week after it was announced earlier this year the school was closing at the end of the year, meaning the program will cease to exist once the Patriots’ run is over.
In the opener, Trey Goree was dynamite on the mound, going all five innings, striking out seven and allowing just three hits. Josh McDowell added a double, a triple and three RBI in the win, while Jared Sauls notched a double and three RBI as well.
In the nightcap, Randolph’s Owen Deal got the win, while Goree picked up the save. Drew Weathersby recorded three hits and three RBI, Rhett Ragan had two hits and two RBI and Grant Ward added a double and two RBI.
Randolph Southern will next face No. 1 seed David Emanuel next week on the road.
TERRELL ACADEMY 4, COVENANT: The No. 1 seed Eagles opened their state title run in the GISA Class AA tournament with a shutout.
Josh Brunswick went the distance, allowing just three hits and striking out five.
Caleb Waters finished 2-for-3 with a home run — his fifth of the year — and was just about the only source of offense Friday for the Eagles (15-5), who will play Game 2 today at 10:30 a.m., followed by Game 3, if necessary.
SHERWOOD SWEPT: The Eagles’ season came to an end with a sweep by Windsor. Windsor won Game 1, 10-8, then won Game 2, 9-6.
Grant Osteen had the best game, notching a pair of doubles.
Sherwood loses five seniors, but coach Eddie Dixon said the future looks bright for the program.
“We’re still really young and we’ve got some kids coming up who should really help us,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll take another step forward next year.”
SGA FALLS: The Warriors, who opened the GISA Class AA state tournament Friday against Central Fellowship, lost Game 1 of the best-of-three series, 6-1, although no final stats were available.
Game 2 is today, followed by Game 3.
Westwood falls in opener: Westwood, which won the Class A state baseball title last year, opened the Class AA playoffs on the road on Friday and fell, 6-2, to Gatewood.
The Wildcats (5-9) will play Game 2 of the best-of-three series today at 11 a.m. with a third game (if necessary) to follow.
— Staff reports
CORDELE — Crisp Academy baseball coach John Penney can’t step on the diamond without thinking of James Bodrey.
On Friday, the memories hit him a little harder.
The Wildcats began the GISA Class A state tournament with an opening-round sweep of Thomas Jefferson, 13-5 and 13-3, advancing to the second round and continuing a season that is dedicated to Bodrey, a former star pitcher who was killed in an ATV accident in October.
The memories of Bodrey, who graduated last spring, float through the air around the Crisp baseball field, bouncing through his teammates’ minds and pushing them to make this season special. The Wildcats have shared endless tears in the seven months since Bodrey’s sudden death, always thinking of him and keeping his memories close to their hearts.
Moments before Friday’s opening pitch, they felt him closer than ever.
“We were out here at the baseball diamond (last year) with the buzzards flying around so much, that James started claiming he was the Buzzard Whisperer,” Penney said. “On (Friday) there was a lone buzzard that flew over the other team, and it flew so low. It circled three or four times and then went away.
“A bunch of us looked at each other and said, ‘There’s Bodrey.’ ”
The Wildcats wear “JB” on the side of their caps to remember Bodrey, and a stone monument of a No. 11 baseball jersey sits just outside of left field, serving as a constant reminder.
Nobody wants the season to end.
“A state championship would be pretty special for him, so that’s the only thing we want,” senior Jordan Howard said. “We don’t want to lose, and we want to give it our all. I just don’t want to finish this season disrespecting James Bodrey, because this is his field now.”
Crisp (12-5), the No. 1 seed from Region 3-A, jumped on fourth seed Thomas Jefferson (5-14) early in the first game, plating four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 4-0 lead, but the Jaguars stormed back with one run in the third and two more in the fourth to pull to within 4-3.
That’s about the time the memories of Bodrey came soaring back.
“When it got tight in Game 1, he was what I was thinking about,” Crisp junior Jeff McKinney said. “If we get knocked out then everything is lost that we are trying to dedicate to him. Those memories come back more and more the closer to the end (of the season) we get.”
Crisp outscored Thomas Jefferson 22-5 the rest of the doubleheader, starting with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Wildcats scored two more in both the fifth and sixth innings to pull away for the Game 1 win.
Six Wildcats had multiple hits in the game, including Corey Stewart (4-for-4, 3 runs, RBI) and Chandler Larkins (2-for-4, 4 RBI, 2 R). Jake Smith (2-for-5, 2 R), McKinney (2-for-5), Howard (2-for-3, 2 RBI), Greyson Farrow (2-for-3, RBI) and Rush Brown (2-for-4, 2 RBI) also had more than one hit in the opener, while Brown was the winning pitcher after throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing four runs and four hits.
Crisp got just one run in the first two innings of the second game, but then the Wildcats’ bats exploded in the third inning for nine runs and six hits, including a grand slam from Howard that cleared the left field fence to give Crisp a 10-0 victory.
McKinney pitched a perfect first two innings before losing his command in the third inning and allowing three hits, two walks and two runs. He regained his control in the fourth inning by striking out the side and left the game as the winning pitcher after allowing three hits and two runs and striking out eight in four innings.
“I got in trouble throwing my fast ball for a strike, but I got it together,” McKinney said. “I was just feeling great in the fourth. I was throwing it where I wanted to location wise. It felt great.”
Howard finished the second game 2-for-3 with five RBI and two runs, while McKinney, Larkins and Chip Posey each had two RBI and Hunter Chambers and Stewart each had one RBI.
Crisp closed the game with three more runs in the fourth inning to win via the mercy rule.
The Wildcats will now play Robert Toombs Christian Academy at home Friday in the second round of the playoffs.
It’s just another step in the season that has meant so much to a community that was brought to its knees late in October.
“I want to win the state title for the kids, and of course you always want to win,” Penney said. “But I would really want to win it this year. James meant a lot to this school. He meant a lot to these kids. I think about him every time I turn around.”