September 25, 2018

Braves spoil perfect season for rival Red Devils

(Bowdon, GA) — The Braves needed two wins on Saturday at juggernaut Bowdon to earn a No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in this week’s state playoffs.

They would come up on the short end of a 5-1 decision in game one, but they bounced back in a big way in the final regular season game to spoil a potential undefeated campaign for the rival Devils.

The Braves took game two 13-0 in five innings behind a strong performance from senior starter Keagan Spradlin and a huge homer from sophomore Bryan Jones.

Jones blasted a huge grand-slam homer, the first of his career, as the Braves sent 12 hitters to the plate and scored eight runs in the top half of the fifth inning.

Logan Ward, Ethan Brant, and Spradlin also had key RBI hits in the inning. Ward, Brant, Lee Kay, and Tristan Brown each had RBI hits earlier in the game to give the squad a 5-0 lead before the fifth.

The Red Devils couldn’t get anything going against Spradlin who tossed his second run-rule no-hitter of the season. The senior walked three batters and struck out five. His defense played well behind him.

“It feels pretty good knowing we were able to come out and get the W after dropping the first two games to Bowdon,” said Spradlin after the game. “I am glad I had my team behind me to help me get this win in my final regular season start– we did it a lot for pride.”

The win did not advance the Braves any higher in the state playoff picture but being able top stop the Devils winning streak was a nice way to end the season.

The Devils entered the regular season finale with a perfect 25-0 record. The Devils earned the Region 5-AA title and will host the No. 4 seed Oglethorpe County from Region 8-AA this Friday and Saturday.

The Braves will travel to face the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AA, Social Circle. The teams will play a doubleheader Friday and if they split will meet for a rubber game on Saturday, all at Social Circle.

Head coach Trent Bianco was pleased to build some momentum heading into state.

“After that first game, we really needed some momentum going into the playoffs and our guys responded in a big way. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the season head into the first round of the playoffs. Proud of all of our guys after that first game a lot of people would have folded — it shows how tough our guys are.”

Bryan Jones on his way to meet his teammates after a 5th inning grandslam gave the Braves a 10-0 lead in game two Saturday at W.C. Roop Field in Bowdon

Bryan Jones on the way to meet his teammates after his 5th inning grand slam gave the Braves a 10-0 lead in game two Saturday at W.C. Roop Field in Bowdon

The Brave head coach was also very pleased with his senior starter on a well pitched game when the team really needed a spark.

“Spradlin goes out there and throws a no-hitter against the No. 3 team in the state. He was just fantastic, he looked like our best,” said Bianco.

Jones started the season on the JV squad before earning more playing time on the varsity squad during the middle of the season.

“We talk all year along to our guys about getting an opportunity and never knowing when it will come. Jones steps in has a great day defensively at third and hits a  double, a grand slam and just makes the most of an opportunity,” said Bianco.

“Bryan had a great year on our JV team — he just comes to work every day and doesn’t say a word — he just busts his tail every single day and that is all you can ask for.”

The Braves hope to getting on a hot streak in the post season the same way they did one year ago when they battled all the way to the quarterfinals.

If the Braves can get past the Redskins this weekend they would take on either Lamar County (No. 1 seed Region 4-AA) or Fitzgerald (No. 4 seed Region 1-AA) in round two.

A series with Fitzgerald would be a rematch of last season’s quarterfinal series won by the Hurricanes in three games in Franklin. A series versus Lamar County would be a preview of a Region 5-AA series next year as the two teams will both be in the same region again for the first time in several years.

The Devils got a solid all-around performance from Reed Robinson in game one Saturday. Robinson tosses a complete game allowing just two hits and five walks while striking out five. He also had two base hits at the plate.

Jake Gilley had a two-run triple and scored a run, Colton Pitcock and Matt Gresham drove in runs and Aarron Bradley went 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch for the Red Devils offensively in the opener. Ethan Brant drove home the only run for the Braves.

(UPDATE: This week’s series at Social Circle will be played with game times of 4 and 6 PM on Friday followed by a lunchtime start on Saturday if necessary.)

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