After playing two games on Wednesday, Jones County had a 130-mile bus ride home last night and had class before making the trip all the way back to Forsyth Central for Game 3. One would have thought the home cooking that the Bulldogs had in their favor would have paid dividends, but it was the home team that had trouble waking up in the rubber match.
Central's offense never got going Thursday, producing just one hit against Jones County starting pitcher Keaton Gordon, and the season ended in a game that felt like it never began, as the Bulldogs fell 3-0.
After putting an emphasis on eliminating pop outs that doomed the Bulldogs in Game 1, Central coach Kevin McCollum hoped his batters would be more “on top” of the ball in the game that mattered most, but instead his team spent much of the night either swinging into ground outs too soon or leaving the bats on their shoulders when pitches came down the middle.
“I don't know,” McCollum said of the Bulldogs' struggles at the plate. “We didn't have as many fly balls today, we hit some balls really hard, but a lot of those went straight to their guys. They executed. But that's baseball.”
Despite the tough out at home, McCollum applauded his team on a banner season. The Bulldogs hosted a playoff game for the first time in over decade and won their first region championship in 17 years, going 19-9 and 15-4 in Region 7-AAAAA during the regular season.
“I'm really proud of all of them,” McCollum said. “We did so many good things this year. The last couple of weeks have been a lot of fun.
“At the end, not everything goes your way, and that's just the beauty of the game, really.”
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs were robbed of a chance to open the scoring when a would-be RBI double from Robbie Repasz was caught on a full-extension grab from center fielder Chandler Ramage.
“Yeah, that catch really hurt us,” McCollum said. “That could have been an inside-the-park homerun had the kid not caught it because of the way he fell, so that's two runs possibly.”
The Bulldogs' lone hit came from Josh Meese two batters before Rapasz officially flew out.
Overall, Gordon finished with one hit, three strikeouts and four walks to his name. Parker Morrison wasn't shabby for the Bulldogs, mostly scattering nine hits and striking out nine through the last four frames against just one walk, but the Bulldogs couldn't help him out—they only put five base runners on for the entire game.
Jones County will move on to face East Paulding in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs.