AMERICUS — The Southland baseball team took what Raiders coach John Brady called a “stomach punch” in Saturday’s Game 2 of the GISA Class AAA opening-round playoff series against Bulloch Academy.
The Raiders, however, recovered in Game 3 to beat Bulloch and advance to next week’s quarterfinals.
With Southland’s Reed Dillard and Bulloch’s Smith Reeves dueling on the mound in Saturday’s opener, the teams — and both starting pitchers — went into the ninth inning tied 2-2. Southland broke through with four runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-2 lead, but Bulloch scored five in the bottom of the ninth to escape with a 7-6 win.
Brady called it one of the worst losses of his career — but somehow his kids bounced back to rout Bulloch in Game 3, 13-2.
“We have a tough group of kids, and they battled back and won Game 3, and that’s all that matters,” Brady said.
Southland’s Hunter Weldon and Ford Roach had big hits in the ninth inning of Game 2 to give the Raiders their lead. Weldon drove in two runs to break the 2-2 tie, and then Roach followed with an RBI double to make it 5-2.
In Game 3, Southland pulled away with a nine-run second inning, which was highlighted by a three-run homer from Weldon.
Southland’s Brandon Looney, who had to battle through pain and soreness after fouling a ball off his knee earlier in the day, threw all five innings in the clincher to get the victory.
The Raiders’ next opponent is Loganville Christian, which Southland defeated in last season’s opening round.
WESTWOOD FINISHES SWEEP: The Westwood School baseball team overwhelmed LaGrange in the GISA Class AA opening-round series and finished a two-game sweep Saturday with a 14-1, five-inning victory.
The Wildcats, who will play in next weekend’s quarterfinals against Frederica Academy, scored four runs in the first inning, three in the second and four more in the third to pull away early.
Tyler Classon threw all five innings with nine strikeouts and three walks. Westwood’s leaders at the plate were Classon (2-2, 2B), Collier Baggett (2-4, 3B), Dylon Smith (2-4).