By Ronald Frazier
Heritage High School did something that no other team in 2018 has done against Glenwood pitcher Slade James: they scored an earned run. In fact, they scored a second unearned run to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning in the game played in Newnan on Feb. 27.
That got the attention of the Gators very quickly as they began an offensive surge, knocking out 17 hits and 18 runs to take an 18-4 mercy-rule four-inning win against their hosts.
That win coupled with the victory over Southland Academy in Americus and a big win against Florida power Marianna, Fla. at home on March 2nd gave the Gators a 3-0 week and improved their overall record to 10-1.
James finished the game against Heritage and gave up only one more hit in picking up his third win and his teammates made sure he did. The big RBI hitters were Brooks Barton with four and Trevor Crisco with three. In addition James was perfect at the plate, going three for three and he was joined by Liam Carbone who was two for two.
The Gators remained on the road and traveled to Americus to play Southland Academy. The game ended after five innings due to darkness and the Gators took a 10-5 win.
Both teams had five hits in the game but three of Glenwood’s hits left the yard. James hit two home runs, going two for four and collecting five RBI and Andrew Tillery was one for two with a three-run homer and two walks.
Despite giving up three runs, Nick Adams stayed in long enough to collect the pitching victory for the Gators as Joey Druash and Jake Melton also pitched in the game for Glenwood.
Then Glenwood played the big showdown game between the Bulldogs of Marianna, Fla. and the Gators of Glenwood on the 2nd with both teams sporting one loss. In fact the Bulldogs were unbeaten before losing earlier in the week to Pike Liberal Arts in Troy, Pike is the team Glenwood faced in the 2017 finals and is currently undefeated so far in 2018.
Luke Davis was on the hill for the Gators and he was masterful. He gave up a single run in six innings giving up only five hits while striking out five.
Andrew Tillery came in relief in the seventh and struck out all three batters he faced to collect the save.
Tillery was also the RBI man as he hit his second home run of the week a two-run shot that proved to be the winning runs. Barton had the other RBI for the Gators who collected nine hits with Bryce Valero’s three for three performance leading the way.
The Gators have a big week this next week as they open area play on the road with a doubleheader against Lee Scott there on March 6. Following those two games, the Gators open their annual Border Wars tournament by hosting Heritage March 8 at 4 p.m. and then will play Westfield Academy on March 9 for their second game in the tournament. The tournament will continue games on March 9-10 and games will be based on team’s records following their first two contests.
Games in Border Wars will be played both at Bill Bowers Park and at Golden Park in Columbus.