Hitting, fielding and running bases.
It was just another afternoon of practice for the Bulloch Academy Gators on the eve of their first-round state playoff game with Mount de Sales.
Bulloch, the second seed from GISA Region 4-AAA, hosts the Cavaliers of Macon, the third seed from Region 2-AAA, this afternoon in the best two-of-three series. The opening game is at 1 p.m. with the second contest to follow. If a third game is needed, it will be held Saturday starting at noon.
The Gators (12-7) beat Mount de Sales 5-4 on March 9 at Gator Alley. Sophomore Smith Reeves was the winning pitcher of record. He had two hits in the contest and senior Jarret Humphries led with three.
“I think we saw their best pitcher that day,” said BA head coach Chris Bishop. “We feel like we are going to see a lot of fundamental baseball, such as bunting runners over, from them. We know that they can pitch well and throw strikes. We just have to show up offensively.”
Hitting has not been a strong suit for the Gators this season.
“It has been Achilles’ heel,” said Bishop. “If we would have swung the bat a little bit more here and there, we’d be in better shape. As the pitching has gotten better as the season progressed, pitchers have been able to get ahead of us and we just haven’t been able to make the adjustments. We’ve worked on that part of our game and hopefully our hard work will reveal itself during the series.”
Humphries and sophomore Joshua Bishop have been the offensive leaders with batting averages over .400. Seniors Loy Waters and Harrison Averitt are in the mid .300s and senior Mathew Blitch is close to .300.
We’ve just got to get them all hitting together in one inning,” said Bishop. “Who knows, we could hit the cover off the ball. We’ve done that before. We are prepared to score a lot of runs in unconventional ways and ready to have a good time doing it.”
Prior to the series, Bulloch lost its last four games of the regular season.
“In all four, we played good defense and had good pitching,” said Bishop. “There has been some consistency there.”
Defense and pitching has been the mainstays for the Gators. Smart, aggressive base running has also been another factor.
“I hope they (Mount de Sales) know that we are going to run on them,” said Bishop. “We hope that it will force them into making mistakes that we are going to need.”
The Cavs (7-10) will face Waters, a right-handed plate nibbler, in Game One and Bishop, a right-handed flame-thrower, in Game Two.
“We win those and we won’t have to worry about a game on Saturday,” said Bishop.