In a game that featured a valiant pitching duel with just four combined hits, Tuesday’s 1-AA tilt between Fitzgerald and Thomasville came down to an error on the final play.
The Bulldogs secured a 1-0 region victory when Garett Hasty scored on a wild throw to first base on a sacrifice bunt by Morgan Meyers. Hasty, who was already digging towards third base on the play, turned the bag and headed home on instinct when he saw the ball dribble into right field.
Here comes the irony.
Fitzgerald scored in a near identical manner on a catcher’s wild throw to third base in the sixth inning, but the play was called back when Thomasville assistant coach Kyle Fiveash noticed the runner missed the plate.
What appeared to be confusion in the stands was actually an appeal in the making. McDougald challenged the call, received confirmation from the umpire that the runner missed, then signaled Payton Dixon to step on the plate, thus yielding the final out of the inning.
“Me and their coach were talking about it after the game just how evenly matched both teams were; basically mirror images of each other,” McDougald said. “If we don’t score there at the end, we could’ve gone 20 innings.”
Though a late, exciting play stole all the buzz, Dixon’s performance was the story from the Bryant-Garner Athletic Complex on Monday.
The senior tossed a season-high 14 strikeouts while allowing just two hits in a complete game, shutout performance.
“I feel as good with him on the mound as I do with any of our other guys,” McDougald said of Dixon. “He knows what’s at stake, has a good head on his shoulders and always gives a quality effort – that’s a fact.”
Thomasville (9-7, 3-3) now reverts attention to another regional tilt with Berrien on Friday.
The last match between these two also dished up a 1-0 in favor of the Rebels on March 11.
Berrien currently retains a two-way tie with Cook for first place in 1-AA, and the Bulldogs hope to trim that margin as the season crosses into the dogleg stretch.
“I love where we’re at right now,” McDougald said. “We may need a little help to make a run at the region title, but its still right there. ... At this time of the year, you’ve got to manage and think about all that stuff.
“It’s going to be a heck of a fight.”