Southeast Bulloch pitcher Daniel Sanford made arguably the biggest play of the season with the game on the line in the state playoffs Friday afternoon. In Game 2 of a double-header against Jordan with a runner on third and two outs, a pass ball set up a collision at the plate as Sanford would apply the tag just in time to get the runner out and preserve a 1-0 victory.
The win gave SEB a clean sweep over the Red Jackets winning 11-6 in the first game, and 1-0 in the second.
In Game 2, Sanford pitched a complete-game shutout, getting timely outs when he needed them.
“He competed. That’s the biggest thing. He got himself into a couple of jams when he lost the strike zone a little bit, but when the situations got tough he made some great pitches,” head coach Brandon Peterson said after the game.
Sanford managed to pitch himself out of several jams in the game to keep the shutout alive. In the fifth inning of Game 2, Sanford pitched out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out the batter with two outs. Sanford would sting the Red Jackets one more time with a two-out strikeout and a runner on third in the sixth inning.
“That’s a senior. When the situation called for it he rose to the occasion,” Peterson said.
After pitching six innings, Coach Peterson decided to stay with the hot-handed Sanford. Sanford would get the final out for the Yellow Jackets, but the celebration was cut short after the collision at the plate. Sanford went down in pain, grabbing his shoulder and side.
“I was shaken up for sure,” Sanford said. “The guy started charging in at home and hit me in the wrong spot I guess, but I got the out so that’s all that matters. I'm just happy that we're moving on. We haven't hosted a state playoff game since I've been here so it's a great feeling.”
Game 1 was less climactic than the second. SEB swatted the Red Jackets early, plating eight runs in the first inning on the way to an 11-6 victory.
“We played with a lead and that definitely helped. We battled them all night. Every game is going to be different and I’m just proud of our guys,” Peterson said.
Rigsby Stewart had two RBIs in the first game of the series, including an run-scoring single in the first inning. Starting pitcher Bryce Harnage helped his own cause in the third inning with an RBI single.
The Red Jackets (16-11) tried to mount a comeback in the top of the sixth inning in Game 1. Back-to-back bases-loaded walks allowed the Red Jackets to trim the lead to 11-6. Peterson pulled his ace pitcher after six innings of work.
“It’s the playoffs so nothing’s going to be easy. We hung on and got the win. They tried to come back with a couple of runs but our guys battled and kept fighting,” Peterson said. "We're happy about this one and we're going to go out and work hard in practice and try to get another one."
The Yellow Jackets will now await their fate for the next round of the playoffs. SEB could face Franklin on the road Wednesday or stay with the home crowd and face Hart County.