Blue Devils sweep Dunwoody in state baseball playoffs

Apr. 26—TIFTON — Tyler Holmes did it again Thursday and the Tift County Blue Devils advanced to the second round of the GHSA Class 6A baseball state playoffs with a sweep over Dunwoody.

John Davis and Ryan Whitley picked up victories in two very different games for Tift. Holmes' third homer of the season was a three-run shot that erased a 2-1 Devils deficit in the fifth inning. Tift won the opener, 4-3.

The nightcap saw Whitley spotted a six-run lead in the first. TCHS cruised from there, 10-3.

Tift was to take on Brunswick in the Sweet 16 Wednesday. The Pirates, the No. 2 team from Region 2, swept Mundy's Mill in the first round.

"We'll go to work on Brunswick tomorrow and Saturday and have three good days of practice Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and we'll be ready to play," said Tift head coach Greg Williams.

Runs were at a premium for most of the opener. Through four frames, only one runner touched home, an unearned tally against Davis when Sam Dale scooted home on an errant throw as he stole home.

"I knew it was going to be that type of game," said Williams.

in the fifth, the Wildcats went up 2-0 when Caleb Hamilton tripled with one down and Dale singled him in with two outs.

But then the Blue Devils came up n the bottom half of the fifth. Williams' strategy of running up a pitch count against Dunwoody starter Matt Pearch worked; Pearch threw 99 pitches over just four innings, not far from the limit for a playoff series.

Dunwoody went to the bullpen and Ryan Davies, someone Tift found a bit more hittable.

Brady Moretz singled up the middle to lead off, becoming the first run on a Tyler VanSumeren double to centerfield. Cam Smith worked a walk. After Luke Ellerbee came in as the courtesy runner, up stepped Holmes.

The result was quick. Holmes hammered a pitch deep over the right field fence for a 4-2 lead.

That was Tift's first big break. They needed more to hang on.

The Wildcats pulled to 4-3 when Alex Koehly's single to left brought home Alton Mamaghani in the top of the six. Koehly got to second on a wild pitch, but a pair of fly balls to Mac Brooks in left ended the inning.

Tift had a shot at an insurance run in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs, but Davies coaxed a grounder to short to get out of it.

Davis had to escape an even bigger jam in the seventh.

An error and hit by pitch put two runners on with no outs. Davis jumped on a bunt back to the mound but initially all runners were ruled safe.

Williams appealed the safe call at third and after the umpires conferenced, it was ruled that Jake Spurlin stepped on the bag ahead of the runner for a force. A big second out came when Moretz threw to Spurlin for another force at third for out two.

Brooks flagged down a pop to left for the third out and the victory.

Davis threw a complete game, striking out six while giving up two earned runs on five hits.

Holmes drove in three runs. Davis and Moretz had two hits each.


Far from the late-inning drama of the first contest, Tift County scored six times in the opening inning and chased Dunwoody's starter before he finished it.

Davis started the game by reaching on an error and soon had Landon Parrish and VanSumeren on the bags as well.

Smith blooped in a single for the first run, then the Devils went up 2-0 when Holmes walked. Brooks hit into what would have been a fielder's choice and RBI, but turned into more on a pair of wild throws.

Ellerbee came in on the heels of VanSumeren on the first error and Brooks moved to second when the throw to the plate went high.

Spurlin's single made it 5-0. Tift finished batting around when Ty Dorden barely missed a homer while doubling in Spurlin.

In the third, TCHS added another run, Dorden plating Holmes on a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Whitley was cruising. The Wildcats touched him for a run in the third on Porter Allison's sac fly, and a second one in the fourth on a another sac fly, this one scoring Pearch.

Dunwoody seemed they might have something going against Whitley in the fifth when Zach Paulling homered down the left field line and Dale doubled, but the tide turned against them just as quickly.

The Wildcats flew out to center, but took a gamble on tagging up. Davis' throw to Spurlin was perfect and Dunwoody was out by three feet. Holmes caught a pop-up and Whitley was out of trouble.

Though the Blue Devils were tagged out at the plate twice in the sixth, they added two more runs.

VanSumeren walked with the bases loaded scoring Dorden. Smith delivered Davis on a single to right.

In the seventh, Holmes made it 10-3 when sprinted home on a wild pitch. In between, Whitley struck out the side in the sixth, freezing two men on strike three.

John Dorman came out to pitch the seventh, his first appearance at home in weeks. He struck out a man and allowed a walk, then got Dunwoody to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

"He looked really good," said Williams. "I'm proud of him."

Smith and Spurlin had two-hit games and Dorden and Smith each drove in two runs. Whitley struck out 10 over six innings. Like Davis, he allowed two earned runs.

Around Region 1-6A, Houston County and Thomas County Central swept North Atlanta and St. Pius X, respectively. Lee County lost a pair of close games to Marist.