January 23, 2022

Braves battle Jackets and Indians in South Georgia

(Vidalia, GA) — Heard County Braves baseball took to the road this weekend for a pair of tilts versus two of the best Class AA teams in Georgia — No. 1 Vidalia, and No. 8 defending state champion Jeff Davis.

The Braves made the long trip to Hazelhurst for Friday night’s contest at Jeff Davis where the Yellow Jackets came away with a 7-4 win.

Coach Trent Bianco’s squad battled back from an early 3-0 deficit with four runs in the top of the third to take a 4-3 lead before the Jackets came back to score twice in the fourth and fifth innings to secure the win.

Sophomore Connell White started the game on the mound and took his first loss of the season allowing four earned runs in four innings of work against a solid Jacket lineup.

Senior Leroy Marsh and junior Blayne Barlow paced the offense with two hits apiece while sophomore John Paul Awbrey drove home two Brave runners.

Drew Cornelius and Noah Cantrell each had an RBI as well and Cantrell tossed another scoreless inning in relief.

After spending the night in Vidalia, the Braves were right back at it Saturday afternoon with a noon first pitch versus the top-ranked Indians.

The Braves and Indians battled in a pitcher’s duel won 3-0 by the Indians who managed just one earned against junior Brave starting pitcher Aidan Boyd.

Boyd, off to a great start to the 2021 season, again pitched the compete game allowing just six hits and one walk to the potent Indians batting order.

“Offensively, Vidalia is the probably the best team we’ve faced all year and I thought Aidan was fantastic again,” said Bianco after Saturday’s game. “He was really efficient and made some really big pitches to make some guys that will be playing at the next level in college look silly at times.”

Drew Cornelius appeared to have doubled over the bag down the third base line to drive home two Braves in the top of the sixth, but the ball was ruled foul by the home plate umpire.

Marsh again led the way with two of the Braves’ four base hits versus Indian starter Bryson Whited. Marsh continues to lead the Braves in hitting this season with a stellar .455 average through the first 10 games of the season.

Bianco was pleased to see his guys in close battles against two highly-ranked opponents, but says the team’s goals are to keep improving in order to beat teams like the Jackets and Indians.

“Vidalia is ranked No. 1 in all the polls and Jeff Davis has won two of the last three state titles so if anything we hear it all the time that we are a young team — but we are close and our guys go out there and compete. We’ve got things we need to clean up but I do think we are close,” said Bianco.

“But at the same time, it’s good to see where we are at but it’s about not being satisfied. We don’t just want to come down here and compete with good teams, we want to come down here and beat good teams, so we’ve just got to get back and keep working each and every day.”

The Braves used the long road trip as a way to simulate what a state playoff series might be like in April and May.

The squad stopped off at Jackson High School for some hitting practice on the way south Friday. Jackson is coached by former Brave assistant Ryan Duffey.

The Braves return to action with road games this week playing at Mt. Zion Wednesday and at Rockmart this Friday. The Braves begin Region 5-AA play at Callaway on Tuesday, March 23.

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