Anyone who likes a good underdog story has a baseball team to root for as Bulloch Academy begins play in the GISA Class AAA state playoffs today.
The Gators (6-11) overcame a handful of early season losses and caught fire down the stretch to take third place in its region. Bulloch now travels to Southland Academy for a 5 p.m. first pitch in the first game of a best-of-three series.
Game 2 will begin at noon Saturday and a third game — if necessary — will be played later Saturday afternoon.
“One of our goals when the season began was to make it into the state playoffs,” Bulloch coach Chris Bishop said. “We’ve met that goal and exceeded many others. This group has worked hard to get where we are right now.”
When the season began in March, several Gators were trying to expand their roles and make up for six starters lost from the 2013 team.
Many others were getting their first taste of varsity action.
Veterans like Smith Reeves and Joshua Bishop have led from the mound while Hobby Mills — the everyday catcher from last season — has also chipped in at third base and shortstop.
But for each of them, there is a Gator like Will Rushing who is back on a baseball team for the first time since seventh grade and has started all but one game this season.
Bulloch had to learn on the fly as newcomers figured out how to best fit into the game plan.
“It has been a work in progress,” Chris Bishop said. “We’ve had a lead in all but three of our games. We might have let some get away that we know we could have won, but we’re also confident that we can hand with any team we play.
“For the most part, our guys have been solid on defense and the pitching has been getting better over the last few weeks.”
Bulloch's brains will get a workout today before the bats do.
Doubleheaders are usually played on the first day to minimize travel, but the Gators have AP testing, preventing an early release from school.
"I don't think it will affect us," Chris Bishop said. "We'll make the trip both days and hopefully have more to play after that."
The winner of this series advances to the quarterfinals to face either Mt. deSales or top-seeded Loganville Christian.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.