THOMASVILLE --The hits just keep on coming. That's the feeling Thomas County Central had Tuesday night against cross-town rival Thomasville. Add a couple of hit batters and several walks into the mix and it spelled doom for the Yellow Jackets.
A seven-run fifth inning put the game away as the Bulldogs put the sting in the Yellow Jackets 15-2, in five innings.
"They tacked the baseball," McDougald said. "I switched the lineup around today. Everybody contributed up and down the lineup in some shape, form or fashion."
The Bulldogs started smacking the ball in the first inning after Tommy Rice walked and David Ashton was hit with a pitch. Catcher Mario Garcia stepped to the plate and laced a pitch to the fence, scoring both runners. Ben Murray then hit, what appeared to be at first, a harmless fly ball. But it carried and carried until it could carry no more. It went over the fence for the two-run home run.
It was a running theme for the Bulldogs. They would get a runner on base via the walk or getting hit with the pitch. Then a batter would drive them in by anything ranging from a sacrifice fly to a Yellow Jackets error.
Central starting pitcher Joey Barrow took much of the punishment. He allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings of work.
The Bulldogs finished the Jackets off in the top of the fifth inning. The crushing blow came when the Yellow Jackets brought in new pitcher Nolan King, trailing 12-1.
With the bases full of Bulldogs, centerfielder Jayson Best stepped into the batter's box. On the first pitch, he pounded it to the fence in left-center field, clearing the bases. Best wound up at third on a fielding error.
"We've got a lot of work defensively to do," Central head coach Scott Brown said after the game.
Central committed four errors, but what doomed the Yellow Jackets were the walks and hit batters. Central issued six walks and hit four batters.
"That's free. All you've got to do is stand there and take it," McDougald said. "It may hurt a little bit."
Brown obviously was unhappy with the free passes his team was issuing.
"No matter how good the defense is, it doesn't matter if you can't throw strikes," Brown said.
While Central's pitchers were out of control, Rice was in total control for the Bulldogs. He allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out four. At one point he retired four Yellow Jackets in a row.
"Tommy pitched a whale of a game," McDougald said.
"He threw well and kept us off balance," Brown said. "He did a good job of pitching. He hit his spots when he needed to."
Rice was dealt a four-run lead at the end of the first inning and an eight-run lead at the end of the third. Did that run support take pressure off of him?
"Oh yeah. It gave me more confidence in my defense," Rice said.
Thomasville now prepares for its first Region 1-AAA game against hated rival Fitzgerald. McDougald admits this was a much needed win for his program.
"I can't put it into words," McDougald said.
"We (coaching staff) were feeling this was a must-win situation."
Rice couldn't agree more.
"It's a good win for us. It gives us more confidence," Rice said.
On the flip side, while Brown was disappointed with his team's performance, he's not throwing in the towel anytime soon.
"I ain't given up on this team, but we've got a long way to go," Brown said.
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