Cairo set one a preseason goal to be undefeated in 1-AAA play by the time it took on defending region champion Crisp County.
The Syurpmakers notched their fifth region victory with a 7-0 outing over Americus-Sumter on Friday. Cairo now eyes a Tuesday tilt with Crisp, who coach Ron Best called the “unanimous” powerhouse in 1-AAA.
“We accomplished an early season goal of ours,” he said. “We’re going to have a good day of practice tomorrow, get a nice off day on Sunday then come out and do the best we can to keep this win streak going.”
Cairo embodied all the entailments of a team hitting midseason stride on Friday. The Syrupmakers had no errors, notched timely hits and executed a formidable pitching strategy.
Bailey Lewis started from the mound but was relieved by Brick Kinni with one out in the second inning. Best said he did so to refrain from any potential strain to his top aces as Cairo eyes the bulk of its region games in the coming weeks.
“We wanted to give Bailey a serious bullpen-like session,” said Best while acknowledging that he capped a pitch count for Lewis prior to the game. “We had to commit to that [strategy] and stick to it.”
It was backwards pitching in a way, as Kinni threw for the remaining 4.2 innings while picking up the win from the mound as well.
Cairo also relied heavily on the bottom of its lineup on Friday: the 7-8-9 hitters – Palmer Forgay, Kinni and Shamar Smiley – accounted for four of the seven runs and four RBIs, all from Smiley.
The senior brought home a pair in the second inning after Forgay reached on a sacrifice bunt and error, and Kinni reached on a fielder’s choice. Smiley grounded out his next two at bats in the fourth and sixth, but brought home a pair in each of those instances.
“It gives us a great advantage when the lower [lineup] guys are getting hits for us,” Best said. “It sets the table for the top of the order and gives us a great advantage.”
Cairo (6-8, 5-0) will practice on Saturday then enjoy a day off on Sunday before returning to the diamond in another region game against Crisp on Tuesday.