Tift County baseball springs upset

Sonny Kennedy

No. 1 McEachern was supposed to breeze through its first-round matchup with unheralded Tift County fairly easily. But the visiting Blue Devils, the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA, won the series opener 4-1 Friday, then, after a two-hour rain delay, took Game 3 last night in Powder Springs 2-1 to eliminate the Region 4 champions.

Pitcher Zach Bullard accounted for both Tift County wins in hurling all seven innings of each game. Bullard gave up just three hits in the opener and four hits in the clincher.

McEachern was its own worst enemy in making three errors. Both Blue Devils runs came in the fourth inning as a result of Indians’ mistakes.

Tift County’s Will Reinhardt grounded to third and Maxwell Watkins couldn’t handle it allowing Tyler Wall to score the Blue Devils’ first run. Later in the inning, Briggs Benson also grounded to third and Watkins’ throw to first was not in time and Ryan Ross sprinted home to score the game-winning run.

It is worth noting that Region 1 took three of four playoff series from its Region 4 opposition. Marietta’s sweep of Camden County was the exception.

McEachern had won 15 of 16 games and carried an impressive 21-5 record coming into the postseason. Tift County, now 16-13 on the season, will travel to Newnan for the start of its Round 2 series Thursday.

No. 4 Walton won Game 3 over No. 9 South Gwinnett 5-2 as UGA signee Stephen Wrenn threw six innings to get the win while Caleb Bohan closed out the game in the seventh. The Raiders advance to host Norcross Thursday.

No. 10 Grayson and Roswell had to move their Game 3 date to Mill Creek’s Father’s Field due to field issues at Grayson. Roswell jumped out to a 3-1 lead after one inning as Zach Hald ripped a three-run double for the Hornets.

Drew Davis connected for a two-run homer in the third to give Roswell a 5-1 lead. The Hornets then held on to advance after a 6-4 win.

Roswell will ironically play its second-round series again at Father’s Field against No. 8 Mill Creek.

No. 3 Milton rallied for a dramatic 4-3 win over Brookwood in the bottom of the seventh as the Eagles advanced to Round 2. Ryan Gridley hit a solo homer with two outs to tie the game and Dylan Cease then connected on an RBI triple to win the game for host Milton.

The Eagles advance to host Lambert.

In Class AAAAA, super prospect Travis Demeritte earned the win on the mound and went 2-for-2 with an RBI and five runs at the plate to help send host Winder-Barrow to the second round after an 11-4 win over South Paulding. The No. 7 Bulldoggs will travel to face Pope in Round 2.

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