By Stephen Black
No. 1 McEachern was supposed to breeze through its first-round matchup with unheralded Tift County fairly easily. But the visiting Blue Devils, the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA, won the series opener 4-1 Friday, then, after a two-hour rain delay, took Game 3 tonight in Powder Springs 2-1 to eliminate the Region 4 champions.
Pitcher Zach Bullard accounted for both Tift County wins in hurling all seven innings of each game. Bullard gave up just three hits in the opener and four hits in the clincher.
McEachern was its own worst enemy tonight in making three errors. Both Blue Devils runs came in the fourth inning as a result of Indians’ mistakes.
Tift County’s Will Reinhardt grounded to third and Maxwell Watkins couldn’t handle it allowing Tyler Wall to score the Blue Devils’ first run. Later in the inning Briggs Benson also grounded to third, Watkins’ throw to first was not in time and Ryan Ross sprinted home to score the game-winning run.
It is worth noting that Region 1 took three of four playoff series from its Region 4 opposition. Marietta’s sweep of Camden County was the exception.
McEachern had won 15 of 16 games and carried an impressive 21-5 record coming into the postseason. Tift County, now 16-13 on the season, will travel to Newnan for the start of its Round 2 series Thursday.