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Bulldog baseball picks up pair of wins to kick off 2021 season

After a shortened 2020 season, the Bulldogs kicked off the year with a pair of wins at the annual Citizens Bank Diamond Day hosted by Swainsboro High School.

Game 1 would pit the Dawgs against the Tigers. In what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, sophomore Lawson Mercer would toe the rubber for the Dawgs, facing off against Kaleb Edenfield for the Tigers.

The start of a season often sees pitching well ahead of hitting, and that proved to be the case in this one. With a score of 0-0 going into the sixth inning, chances were running out for both teams and any opportunity for extra bases had to be capitalized on. With two outs in the top of the sixth, sophomore Jack Walden stood on second base. At this point, the Dawgs offense had only produced 2 hits. A runner on second was too far from home with so few opportunities left, so the Dawgs dialed up a steal. An errant throw would get past the third baseman and Walden would score the game’s first run. Edenfield would exit the game after six nearly flawless innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 11 Dawgs.

Mercer and the defense would sit down the Tigers in order to carry the game into the seventh. With one out, Natavus Robertson singled on a line drive to center field. Hagan Henry followed Robertson with a hard hit to the third baseman, forcing an error and Roberston advancing to third. With one out and runners on first and third, Coach Collins decided to roll the dice again. Senior Trey Hughes would execute the safety squeeze to perfection, scoring Roberston.

On his decision, Collins said, “A couple of veteran players were in a spot to get us a run. Those are pressure situations they have to be big in.”

The Tigers would manage to escape a bases-loaded situation, allowing just the lone run in the seventh but would have to overcome the 22run deficit in the bottom half. Swainsboro managed one hit in the top half but otherwise went quietly. Mercer would finish his complete game shutout, scattering 5 hits, 0 runs, and 3 walks while striking out seven Tiger batters. The Dawg defense would complement its pitcher with errorless baseball.

Game 2 of the day would have the Dawgs matched up against Washington County. Runs were at premium against Swainsboro, but that would not be the case against the Golden Hawks.

Mercer continued his dominance on the day, but this time from the batter’s box. He would go 3-4 with 4 RBIs and 1 run scored. Other Bulldogs that contributed to the barrage were Robertson and Joseph Stewart, both earning a pair of hits each with Stewart driving in 3 runs and Roberston ending the day with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI.

The top of the line-up executed their role well. Freshman Hudson Henry batting from the leadoff spot went hitless but drew 2 walks and scoring 3 runs. Hughes recorded a pair of hits and was responsible for 4 runs scored. Nine of the team’s 17 runs would be produced by the first three batters in the Bulldog line-up.

Stewart would pitch for the Dawgs and face a Washington County team that feels very comfortable in the box. The top half of the Golden Hawk line-up would account for the majority of their offense. Of the 9 hits earned, the top four hitters were responsible for 8 of those and all 5 RBIs. The success would come from keeping the rest of the line-up quiet and off the base paths.

Stewart would finish the day giving up just 2 earned runs while striking out four. The Dawgs would end the game after five innings with a score of 17-5.

Up next for ECI is the Burke County Diamond Day on Saturday, February 27. They are set to play Burke at 10 a.m. and undefeated Jefferson County at 12:30 p.m.

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