Even after all Statesboro has been through on the baseball diamond, at the end of their regular season they still had a chance to give their seniors one final good memory at Mill Creek Park.
Despite the best efforts on the mound by senior Dalton Ross, Statesboro lost its 2-1 lead to Glynn Academy in the final inning to cap their season in a 5-2 loss. Though the 9-21 regular season record may be tough to swallow, head coach Jim Simmons is quick to remind his team a new season starts tomorrow.
“When we wake up the 9-21 goes away,” Simmons said. “Right now everyone in the state is 0-0 and that’s how we’re going to look at it from here on out.”
While it can be assumed the seniors would have preferred a better record their final year in the program, it shouldn’t discount the fact the current senior class of baseball players at Statesboro have missed the state playoffs only once in 2015. The Blue Devils will represent region 2-5A as a No. 4 seed in the state playoffs next week, and Simmons says that’s something his boys should be proud of.
“They’ve battled through stuff like this all year and I know it’s been frustrating,” Simmons said. “But they’ve had great attitudes this season about it and I know they’re ready for these playoffs.”
The loss also sealed a sweep for the Terrors, as they got the better of Statesboro 11-4 on Monday and 4-1 Wednesday. Statesboro had taken at least one game of a series in the last two weeks to help qualify them for the playoffs and the top of the seventh inning kept them from making it three weeks in a row.
Ross came into the inning having allowing only two hits and one walk, looking to close things out with Statesboro ahead 2-1. After giving up a leadoff single, Ross forced a hard grounder to third base that ended in an errant throw to give Glynn two runners on with no outs.
The next at-bat saw a bunt laid down by Glynn, but once Statesboro got to the ball all runners would be safe. But the real undoing of the game came in the fourth at-bat — a ground ball misplayed by the shortstop to allow the tying run home. Then followed another ground ball that once again would cause problems, clearing the bases as Statesboro mishandled the throws trying to get just one out.
“We just didn’t have anything to block those floodgates from coming open,” Simmons said. “Once we misplayed that bunt it just all came undone from there.”
It was a shame that Ross, who pitched all seven innings, would be charged for the loss in a game where he did everything in his power to keep Statesboro competitive. Ross would throw 63 of his 84 pitches (75 percent) for strikes while allowing five hits, one walk and picking up five strikeouts.
All five of his runs were unearned, as four errors by Statesboro would prove to be the key to Glynn Academy winnings Friday’s game. What makes all of that even more remarkable is Ross pitched all seven innings with nine and a half fingers.
Sparing the details, Ross lost the top part of his right index finger in an accident of January this season. The senior didn’t know if he’d ever be able to throw a single pitch again, let alone a complete game. However even through a tough season and extensive rehab, Ross found himself as one of Statesboro’s major contributors this season.
“I definitely had my doubts coming into this season,” Ross said. “But I was never going to let that get in the way of our season. I was determined to come back.”
Today marks a new kind of season for Statesboro though, as now they get to prepare for a looming matchup with the defending 4A state champions Locust Grove. Now in 5A, the Wildcats are 21-5 this season and went 14-2 in their region.
The games will take place in Locust Grove on April 28 and 29, with times still TBA.