The Bulldogs hosted McIntosh County Academy on Monday to open up the second week of region play.
Climbing the hill for the Dawgs was Joseph Stewart. Stewart has carried much of the load for the Bulldogs this season and rightfully so, enjoying his most productive year on the mound thus far. However, baseball is a game of ups and downs, and the opener against the Bucs would be a rough one for the junior.
McIntosh grabbed the lead early on a 2-run homer in the top of the first. They would tack on another 2 runs in the top of the second. The Dawgs offense would muster 7 hits in the game, including a 3-4 day by freshman Hudson Henry. Timely hitting would be what eluded Bulldog hitters. The Bucs would walk 8 Dawg batters but would manage to escape each jam, allowing only 2 RBI (Stewart, Rehberg). Some days you can do no wrong; other days, nothing seems to go your way. Game 1 was definitely the latter as the Bucs downed the Dawgs 7-3.
Needing a win to even the season series, pitching, hitting, and defense would have to show up. If you hoped to see a refocused team, you would have been delighted to be in attendance. Bulldog hitters went to work early with each of the first three batters reaching base. Back-to-back bases loaded singles by Caleb Avery and Jack Walden would put the Dawgs up 2-0. Henry would follow with a sac fly to give ECI an early 3-0 lead. In the top of the second, Avery would strike again driving in Hughes.
In the top of the third, PJ Farnum would step in the box for his first at-bat of the season. Farnum has been recovering from a knee injury sustained back in September which ended his sophomore campaign on the gridiron. With runners on second and third, Farnum tripled on the 2-1 pitch for a line drive, scoring Whitehead and Henry. Two batters later, Farnum would score on a wild pitch, extending the Bulldog lead 7-0. Avery would lead the way at the plate, going 3-4 with 2 RBI. Farnum would add a pair of hits and 3 RBI. Bryce Kearson, Walden, Henry, and Whitehead would each knock in a run.
In what has become a recurring role, Coach Collins turned to Hughes to pick up a win in the crucial game two match-up. The senior would not disappoint with another lights-out performance, recording five innings of work, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 6 Buccaneer batters.
Next week, the Dawgs will take on Bryan County. Dropping down from Class AA, Bryan enters the contest with a 9-6 record and leading Region 3-A with 129 runs scored on the season. Game 1 was scheduled for Tuesday at Bryan with Game 2 taking place Friday at Joe Harvey Field in Twin City at 5:30 p.m.