THOMASVILLE -- If the Thomasville Bulldogs needed any incentive to win a Region 1-AAA baseball game, they had it Friday. For one, it was senior night, and secondly a win against Monroe would clinch a playoff birth for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs didn't disappoint, as they rolled past the Tornadoes 11-1 and clinched at least the No. 3 seed in the region.

"We needed that, we needed it for confidence," Thomasville head coach Erik McDougald said.

The Bulldogs came into the game on a three-game losing streak but played well in all aspects of the game. Most importantly to McDougald, they played small-ball.

The Bulldogs used bunts, stolen bases and singles to set up scoring opportunities, most notably in the fourth inning when the Bulldogs scored six runs to take a 9-1 lead.

Drew Garber led off and reached on an error, and Benjamin Boyd was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second base for Tommy Rice. The runners each advanced to scoring position by executing a double steal. Rice then cleared the bases with a two-run single to right field making 5-1.

Kyle Fiveash was next and laid down a bunt for a single, moving Rice to third. Rice scored when David Ashton grounded out to first base to make it 6-1. Ben Murray followed with a single to left, scoring Fiveash, making the score 7-1. After Brad Webb popped out to center field, Jayson Best followed with a bloop single to center field to score Jason Glover, who was pinch running for Murray. Best stole second base and scored the final run of the inning when Byron Webb smashed a ground ball back at pitcher Mark Hawks. The ball ricoched off Hawks' foot and bounced into no-man's land between home and first. Best hustled around the bases and scored from second making it 9-1.

"I'm most pleased with the way we played small ball," McDougald said. "Small ball is an instrumental facet of the game going into the playoffs. If you can't execute it, you're not going to go far. We haven't played it well all year so it's something we really focused on."

McDougald was also pleased with the performance he got from Garber on the mound. Garber pitched a complete game and didn't allow an earned run in the victory.

"You have to talk about Drew's pitching," McDougald said. "He gives us something a lot of other teams don't have, three quality starting pitchers. He will get the ball for sure (in the playoffs)."

All seven seniors played and each contributed in the win, especially Rice and Murray.

Rice was 3-for-4 at the plate, scoring three runs and driving in two. Murray was 3-for-3 with three RBI's, including a line drive single to left field to end the game in the fifth inning.

Rice said the seniors wanted this game so they have a chance to play one more series at home in their high school careers.

"We found out we had a chance to finish second," Rice said. "I want to play one more series here."

Boyd, a senior, said the game was emotional.

"It's kind of a bittersweet feeling, knowing that we'll all be going on to bigger and better things," Boyd said. "I'm glad we came out and got a win. Everybody is happy about that."

The Bulldogs can tie Worth County in the standings with a win against Westover Tuesday. A win would also give the Bulldogs the advantage in the tie-breaker as long as Westover doesn't score 24 runs.

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