The diamond Raiders picked up a non-region victory Monday night before entering into the daunting region schedule.
Madison County (3-2) came from behind to beat Franklin County 10-3 in Carnesville in its final tune-up before 8-AAAA play.
The Raiders trailed 3-1 in the third with two outs, but Matt Kennison drew a walk and Ian Drake belted a two-run homer. Madison County added an insurance run after that to take the lead for good.
“It was good see us put three runs up with two outs, down by two,” coach Charlie Griffeth said.
Madison County hopes it took on enough top-tier teams during non-region play to ready it for the all-important region schedule.
The Raiders were scheduled to start their 20-game region schedule this past Wednesday against Heritage (results weren’t available at press time).
Madison County’s collection of non-region foes included defending Class AAAAA champion and nationally-ranked Brookwood, Class AAA runner-up Stephens County and a respectable Jefferson outfit that went to the quarterfinals in last year’s Class A playoffs.
“I think we’ve played a preseason schedule to prepare us,” Griffeth said.
Madison County continues its 8-AAAA schedule Friday against Salem and Monday against Loganville.
Griffeth said his team is ready to take on the region.
“We might as well,” he said. “You always feel like you would like to play some more, but then it’s a whole lot funner to play for something that really counts.”
As for the Franklin County victory, Drake’s homer was part of a five-RBI night from the senior. Other big hits came from Bo Dalton, who ripped a two-run double in the fourth and Ethan Seagraves, who drilled a solo homer in the fifth.
Ben Morris worked five innings for the victory, allowing three runs (two earned), three hits, no walks and striking out three.
Before beating Franklin County to get above .500, Madison County split its first four games.
Brookwood, which finished at no. 3 in last year’s ESPN national high school baseball rankings, downed Madison County in Snellville behind a clutch two-out, three-run homer in the third inning.
The Broncos, 34-3 last year, added runs in the fourth and fifth.
Madison County limited Brookwood to just four hits, but the three-run homer was the difference in the ball game.
Matthew Robinson finished with a single and a double and drove home a run to lead the Raider offensively. Kennison and Dalton each had singles.
The Raiders left six runners in scoring position.
“We had our chances,” Griffeth said.
One day earlier, the Raiders scored a dozen unanswered runs to come from behind to beat Stephens County 12-2 in just six innings Friday.
Madison County enjoyed offensive outbursts in the second and sixth innings, scoring four and six runs respectively, as it won for the second time this year.
Dustin Roberts’ mound performance factored heavily in the win, as well.
He pitched three and two-thirds innings of stellar relief, facing just 12 batters, allowing only two base runners and retiring the side in order in the third and fifth innings.
Making Roberts performance all the more impressive was that he threw the day before against Jefferson.
“And he didn’t want to come out,” Griffeth said. “He said he felt great. He was a real big picker-upper.”
Robinson came on and worked a perfect sixth inning. Raider pitching surrendered just five hits.
Offensively, Madison County pounded out 11 hits.
Roberts had two hits and collected three RBIs. Dalton drove home two runs with a single and also had a double. Kennison had two RBIs and a single. Seagraves had two hits.
Seth Fleming also had a RBI single and Morris’s two-run double in the sixth inning upped Madison County’s lead to 12-2, bringing the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
The big win over Stephens County followed a 4-3 loss to Jefferson March 5.
Jefferson, which Madison County beat 8-0 on Feb. 26, scored three runs in the third and one in the fifth to beat the Raiders. Madison County scored two in the second and one in the third.
Dalton ripped a two-run homer, his second of the year, and Robinson had a single and a double, but Dragon pitching limited Madison County to six hits.
“They’ve got some good arms over there,” Griffeth said. “The first kid they started had a pretty good arm and good breaking stuff … Then they brought (Chris) Beck in and he’s lights out.”