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Knights play 'Deerfield baseball' to earn No. 3 seed

Deerfield beats Brookwood, 6-1

Will Akins was one of three pitchers to throw Monday for the Knights, who shut down Brookwood’s hitters to clinch the No. 3 seed from GISA Region 3-AAA. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

Will Akins was one of three pitchers to throw Monday for the Knights, who shut down Brookwood’s hitters to clinch the No. 3 seed from GISA Region 3-AAA. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

ALBANY — The Deerfield-Windsor baseball players missed an elusive Rod Murray during an attempted Gatorade bath on Monday, leaving a pile of ice and water near third base but their head coach dry.

Everything else about Monday’s 6-1 win against Brookwood was flawless — or as Murray called it, “Deerfield baseball.”

In a game that decided the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds for GISA Region 3-AAA in this weekend’s opening round of the state playoffs, the Knights put together one of their best games of the season to clinch the third seed and a first-round matchup with John Milledge Academy.

“We played Deerfield baseball (on Monday),” Murray said. “We had good pitching and fielding and solid situational hitting. … It was very fun to watch. I am proud of them.”

Because the Knights won’t have home-field advantage in the first round, Monday was possibly the final home game of the season for DWS — barring a matchup with a No. 4 seed in the second round or a trip to the Final 4. For Murray, who is leaving for Southland after the season to coach the Raiders in football, it might have been his final game on a field he made so many memories on the past seven seasons.

“It’s been a very special run here,” said Murray, who hasn’t spoken much this season about his looming exit but briefly let his thoughts wander there on Monday. “It’s not about me at all, but I guarantee that when I walk out of here I will probably think about it. But right now we have John Milledge on our mind.”

The Knights struck first with a fourth-inning home run from John Shenker, whose deep fly ball to center field bounced off the glove of Brookwood center fielder Scott Saunders and over the fence.

“That got us going right there,” Murray said. “We had been looking for a little magic, and we will take it. It was a good swing he put on it.”

The Knights added some cushion with two more runs in the fifth inning and then scored once in the sixth and another two in the seventh to put the game away. Chandler Matthews scored a game-high two runs for Deerfield, while Shenker and Steven Williams each had two hits.

On the mound, Deerfield’s Justin Glover got the start and allowed one hit with four strikeouts in two innings before being relieved by Will Akins, who gave up three hits and a run in three innings with two strikeouts. Williams threw the final two innings for the Knights, allowing no hits and striking out three.

“We had three good, solid outings by three pitchers,” Murray said. “We will throw another wave of pitchers (today).”

The Knights wrap up the regular season today with a game at Tattnall Square and will travel to Milledgeville on Friday for a best-of-three series against John Milledge.

The Knights are now 11-6 overall, and Murray believes Monday’s victory has his players heading in the right direction entering the postseason.

“We have been trying so hard that we have been pressing a little bit, so that was a breath of fresh air for us to get some timely hits and get out of here with a win,” he said. “Yeah, this will get us some momentum going (into the playoffs).”