'Dogs wallop Wilco

Apr. 16—A fourth-inning explosion of runs helped the GMC Prep baseball team end Friday's home region bout against Wilkinson County early.

Up 2-0 through three and a half frames complete, the Bulldogs plated eight runs in the fourth to close out the regular season on a high note via a 10-0 run-rule victory.

The offense had been sparse against Warriors' starting pitcher Jaidyn Pennington until the fourth inning hit.

"Wilco's got some good pitching," first-year GMC head coach Kyle Redmond said. "Sometimes you've just got to wait them out and keep putting good swings on the ball. After hitting some right at the defense, we finally got to them in the fourth inning."

As is the case with any explosion, it all started with a little spark. That came thanks to junior Nate Webster, who, coming to the plate with runners on first and second and nobody out, laid a perfect bunt down towards third base. By the time the Wilco defense got to it, Webster was safe and sound at first.

With the bags now loaded, sophomore Noah Goddard stepped up to the plate and smacked a double over the left fielder's head to make it 4-0 GMC Prep. The peppering of the left side of Craig Field continued when senior catcher Bryce Smith sent a two-RBI single to that area of the field as well. It was Tyler Loerzel's turn next, and he used his at-bat to double to left-center, bringing another run across to tie him with Goddard for the team lead in RBI at 17. By the time all the damage was done, the scoreboard read 10-0 Bulldogs.

All that was needed was another clean inning from sophomore southpaw starter Ayden Hamm, which he gave. Wilkinson's leadoff hitter in the top of the fifth was retired on a 4-3 putout, and Hamm struck out the next two to bring the game to its five-inning conclusion. The sophomore faced the minimum 15 batters across his five innings of work.

Warrior shortstop Garin Adside had a single in the first followed by a steal, but he was doubled up when Loerzel snagged a line drive at first then walked over to touch second before Adside could return to the bag. Hamm struck out six and walked none.

The win, along with two forfeits by Twiggs, mean the Bulldogs complete the 2024 regular season with a 10-12 record overall and 4-4 mark in region play.

Friday was the second in what will be four consecutive meetings between GMC Prep and the Warriors. Region 5-A Division 2 is conducting a non-traditional region tournament to determine state playoff seeding with the No. 1 and 2 teams (Johnson County and Glascock County) meeting to determine the top two slots. GMC Prep and Wilkinson will do the same to sort out the third and fourth seeds in a best-of-three series scheduled to begin Wednesday with a doubleheader. Game 1 starts at 4 p.m. on Craig Field with Game 2 to follow. If there's a split, Game 3 will be held 5 p.m. Thursday. Winner gets what should be a more favorable matchup come state playoff time.

"We ended the season well, so hopefully that carries on into the postseason," Redmond said on where his team sits with the regular slate now complete. "When this team plays its best, I'll put them against most teams we play. The problem has been inconsistency. If we play more consistent, I like our chances."