Red Hot Dawgs: Gaston hosts South Lamar in 1A quarters
Thu. May 03, 2012 at 10:05 p.m. | By Andrew Schmidt Sports Writer
Gaston’s Jordan McCartney and the Bulldogs take on South Lamar today in the Class 1A high school baseball playoffs. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden times | File)
After sweeping its way through the first two rounds of the Class 1A state high school baseball playoffs on opponents’ home fields, Gaston looks to bring that road mojo back to Shinbone Ridge for today’s quarterfinal doubleheader against South Lamar.
The Bulldogs (14-9) will host the Stallions (19-11) beginning at 3 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
First-year Gaston coach Derrick Sewell said his players were fired up to be back at home for the first time since a 7-3 win over Ragland on April 10.
“They’re excited. They’re not being cocky, but they feel very good about where they’re at, knowing they get to come back home and play at home,” Sewell said. “That’s where, until we’ve had to go on the road, where we’ve played our best baseball all year.
Fortunately for us, we were able to string together good games on the road here of late, but we’re all excited about the opportunity to get to come back home.”
South Lamar, like Gaston, has swept its first two playoff opponents. The Stallions took care of Faith Christian in the first round before eliminating Berry last week.
The top two starters for South Lamar are Trent Wilson and Ryan Jaynes. Wilson allowed four hits and struck out 11 in his complete-game win last week, while Jaynes hurled a complete-game one hitter. At the plate, Kyle Aldridge, Hank Parker, Jordan Smith, Jaynes and Wilson provide solid run-scoring threats for the Stallions.
“Everybody I’ve talked to just says that they’re a good baseball team,” Sewell said.
“They do the small things right, and they’re fundamentally sound. They’ve got three guys that pitch well that they rely on. Their one-through-four guys hit the ball pretty well from what I hear. Really I don’t think that they’re any better than anybody that we’ve faced thus far. I feel like that side of our bracket, we’re all pretty equal. We’re going to match up well with them just like we have everybody else.”
Gaston’s run to the quarterfinals has come as a bit of a surprise after the Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season just one game above .500 at 10-9. Sewell insists it hasn’t been a shock to him.
“I’m not suprised we’re at this point,” he said. “There were a couple of times around midseason where we got to a make it or break it point, where I felt like we needed a win here or there to get over the hump, and we always did. With the way (the players) worked and their attitude, I’m really not surprised.”
Gaston put Jordan McCartney and Allen Davidson on the mound in last week’s sweep of Ragland, and likely will use the same rotation in today’s twinbill.
“It worked well for us last week to go with Jordan first and then Allen,” Sewell said. “We’re going to stick with that plan.”
Sewell said the first arm in relief would be Sean Love, but the coach said he won’t hesitate to utilize Destin Pollard or Andy Lawson if needed. At the plate, the Bulldogs are led by McCartney, Love, Jesse Brittain and Dustin Gunter.
One complication for Gaston could come with the possible absence of Jackson Bogle, a solid utility man for the Bulldogs who will be participating in the state track meet in Selma beginning this morning. Sewell said there’s a chance Bogle could make it back for a game, but they were preparing as if he would be unavailable.
Regardless, Sewell feels comfortable with the way his team is performing at the season’s most critical point.
“At this point, we’re playing the way we need to be playing,” Sewell said. “I couldn’t ask for more. We’re still making mistakes, but we’re a young team and we’re going to make some mistakes. But if we continue to play like we’re playing ... we’re not going to be an easy win for anybody.”