BROOKLET – Last week, the Southeast Bulloch baseball squad notched its first trip to the second round of the state playoffs since the mid-90s.
For all the Yellow Jackets’ trouble, they’ll now get a crack at the top-ranked team in Class AAA.
SEB (16-9) hits the road this afternoon to take on top seed and tournament favorite Pike County (23-2) with a trip to the state quarterfinals at stake. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m. today in Zebulon and will conclude Thursday if a third game is necessary.
“We know the record and the ranking that Pike has,” SEB coach Brandon Peterson said. “They’re an outstanding team. But at this point in the playoffs, you know that you aren’t going to have any pushover opponents. Facing a top ranked team is a little bit of a motivator, but we expect to compete and win regardless of who we’re playing.”
The Jackets will look to build momentum against the Pirates in the same fashion in which they got a leg up on Swainsboro in the first round.
Senior pitcher Drew Rushing was just short of perfect to open up the postseason as he tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 win to put SEB ahead in the series.
Pike County features a speedy team that makes lots of contact, but the Jackets have plenty of confidence in their ace and the pitching staff in general.
“We welcome the opportunity,” Peterson said. “I thought that we came out confident and played well in the first round. That’s the object in every game. It’s definitely important in the postseason when you’re facing a good team like Pike County.”
Southeast Bulloch hasn’t had the biggest bats or the most run production throughout the season, but the Jackets are also tough to strike out and have routinely come through in big at-bats.
Keagan Carter and Tyler Epps set the table at the top of the lineup and Ryan Adams is SEB’s biggest home run threat in the No. 3 hole, but consistent production up and down the order figures to give the Pirates’ pitching staff plenty to think about.
“Pike has some good arms that they’ll throw at us,” Peterson said. “We need to make the most of every opportunity. We’ve got a tough task, but we feel prepared. We’ve played a lot of good competition throughout region play. Now we just have to go on the road and get it done again.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.