Terrell Academy’s Dalton Dedge was one of three Eagles pitchers who struggled to find the strike zone in Friday’s GISA state quarterfinals game against Edmund Burke. Dedge, Josh Brunswick and Jordan McDaniel combined to walk six batters and hit three more. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DAWSON — Moments after losing to Edmund Burke, 15-0, in Friday’s GISA Class AA state quarterfinals, Terrell Academy coach Ashley Walker was asked if there was a single positive he could take into today’s Game 2 of the best-of-three series.
“No,” Walker said without hesitation. “This is the worst we have played all season.”
The Eagles, who were the Region 3-AA champs and a No. 1 seed, combined to walk six Edmund Burke batters and hit three more in the four-inning game, while failing to get a single hit.
TAE (16-7) will have to win back-to-back games today to continue its season, but the Eagles will need a complete turnaround from an opener where nothing seemed to go right.
“That wasn’t the way we have been playing baseball all year,” Walker said. “I told the guys that they have to turn the page. They have a choice to make. Just like an animal trapped in a corner. Are you going to come out and fight, or are you going to lay down and die. They have a choice to make.”
Edmund Burke (16-4), the No. 2-ranked team in the state and the No. 2 seed from Region 2-AA, threw its second combined no-hitter of the postseason and racked up 11 hits in the rout, but Spartans coach Aaron Phillips isn’t expecting another walk-over win today.
“We have been telling our kids all week that Terrell swings the bat so good that you can’t have a let-down game,” Phillips said. “After a big game like this, you can’t come back and assume they are going to lay down because they are down one game. They are going to be a little mad (today) and will come out and show up.”
The Eagles entered the game riding momentum from the program’s best regular season in years, followed by a first-round win against Covenant. Ace Josh Brunswick, one of six TAE seniors who graduated later Friday night, was on the mound, and the Eagles were ready to keep their dream season rolling.
Brunswick lasted just 1 1/3 innings, and his teammates didn’t last much longer.
“I knew (Edmund Burke) was a good ball team, and I was expecting a good game,” said Brunswick, who gave up three walks, two hits and five runs. “I never thought it would end up like this.”
As bad as Friday went, the Eagles still had their chances. They loaded the bases with walks and errors in each of the first three innings but left three men stranded in each frame.
“You have to come through in those situations and bring some runs across,” Walker said. “The way we have been swinging the bats, I would have never thought that we would have the performance at the plate like we did.”
Brunswick’s performance was equally surprising.
“The second inning I walked out and totally lost my release point,” said Brunswick, who walked three straight batters and hit another in the second inning before being relieved with one out and the bases loaded. “I couldn’t find my release point. I couldn’t throw a strike. I was having a bad day, and every pitcher has one. But I can’t have one. Not now.”
Edmund Burke plated five in the second inning to take a 6-0 lead and then scored three in the third and six in the fourth. TAE relievers Jordan McDaniel and Dalton Dedge both pitched 1 1/3 innings and combined to allow three walks, nine hits and 10 runs.
Brunswick will likely be back on the mound today in Game 2.
“We will come out and give it our all. I honestly think we can win. Everybody has an off day, and (Friday) was ours,” Brunswick said. “We can hit as good as they can. We are just as good a ball team as they are, but we can’t let them get into our heads. We have to keep our heads in the game (today) and be mentally ready.”
Walker isn’t counting out his team, either.
“We feel like we have a chance every time we step on the field,” Walker said. “I’ll never say we don’t have a chance. These kids have been playing for a long time, and they will get the job done. They will come out and fight hard (today).”