After weeks of practice and 40 baseball games, the Bulldogs were one win away from their first baseball championship.
ECI and Charlton split the opening doubleheader Tuesday in the best of three championship series. The Indians took the first game 3-1. ECI evened the series, winning the second game 5-4. It all came down to the third and deciding game on Wednesday to determine who would hoist the 2023 championship trophy.
The Indians won the series and championship, winning the game on championship night 5-0.
Although not playing on Joe Harvey Field, you could argue the Bulldogs had homefield advantage at Georgia Southern just a few miles away. The Bulldog fans and loud student section outnumbered the Indians side of the stands 5-1.
If there is one game in the series the Bulldogs would like to play over or thought they should have won, it would have been the first game of the doubleheader on Tuesday.
Bryce Kearson and the defense allowed just 2 hits to the Indians in the 3-1 loss.
All three of the runs for Charlton were unearned and came in the bottom of the fourth inning on a walk, an error and a unsuccessful try at getting the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt. The Indians only had one hit in the inning.
The Bulldogs outhit the Indians 4-2 in the pitchers’ duel. Aden McQuaig had 2 hits to lead ECI at the plate.
The Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning in the must win second game Tuesday for the Bulldogs.
Just like in the series with Schley Co. the Bulldogs got off the deck and tied the game scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the third and 3 more in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.
Lawson Mercer led off the third on a walk and Hudson Henry and Tuff Boddiford laced a couple of doubles make the score 3-2 Charlton.
Bryce Kearson tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with long solo homerun over the leftfield fence for a 3-3 score.
With Gabe Lee on after a single in the fourth, it would be the Henry-Boddiford combo for 2 more doubles to put the Bulldogs up for good 5-3.
The Indians put a run on the board in the top of the fifth to end the scoring in the game with ECI taking the must win game 5-4.
Like the first game, the Bulldogs outhit the Indians 7-4. Gabe Lee, Hudson Henry and Tuff Boddford had 2 hits each for ECI.
Lawson Mercer pitched the first three innings for the Bulldogs giving up 3 hits. Jacob Durden closed the final 4 innings allowing just one hit.
After a rainy night for the first game on Tuesday, there was perfect baseball weather for the Championship game on Wednesday evening.
Sometimes you just have to tip your cap when a pitcher has one of those nights where they say “he had his stuff’.
Charlton still had their third pitcher in reserve for the game Wednesday and he came through for the Indians.
The senior hurler, throwing in the mid to high 80’s limited the Bulldogs to just 4 hits while striking out 10 Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs got runners in scoring position in the first two innings but couldn’t get the timely hit to push runners across, getting just 2 more hits the rest of the game.
After limiting Charlton to just 6 combined hits in the two games on Tuesday night, they outhit the Bulldogs in the championship game 7-4 to take the game and the trophy back to Folkston.
The Bulldogs have some big shoes to fill next season, losing 4 seniors. Standing in the box for the last time Wednesday were Bryce Kearson, Lawson Mercer, PJ Farnum and Jacob Durden.
The Bulldogs ended the season with a record of 31-10 and were one of only 16 Georgia High School baseball teams still playing last week in the state playoffs.
To quote Frank Sinatra in one of his famous signature songs, “……….., it was a very good year.”
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