MCHS in first place after whipping defending state champs
The season is quite young, but the diamond Raiders certainly looked the part of region title contenders Tuesday night — maybe more.
Behind a six-run third inning, Madison County (6-2, 3-0) wallopped defending Class AAAA state champion and traditional power Loganville 12-2 in just six innings.
The Raiders have beaten three of the region’s best teams in a span of six days. The other two victories came over Heritage and Salem.
Whipping Loganville sets the bar high now.
“We came in with high expectations,” Raider coach Charlie Griffeth said. “I know they realize they have to come earn everything they get, especially now, winning these three … people are going to be gunning for you a little bit more.”
Matt Kennison and Ian Drake each drove in three runs in the Raider rout of Loganville, while Jack May pitched a gem from the mound, working six innings, surrendering three hits and one walk while striking out one.
“Jack threw well and kept them off stride,” Griffeth said.
For a Raider club seeking a return trip to the Class AAAA playoffs, it’s enjoyed a resounding start.
The victory moved the red-hot Raiders to 3-0 in the region and a top the 8-AAAA standings heading into Wednesday’s game with Monroe Area (results were not available at press time).
“It’s a long haul,” Griffeth said. “A lot of things can happen. You start taking the game for granted, it will slap you in the face in a hurry.”
Before thrashing Loganville, the Raiders toppled defending 8-AAAA champion Heritage, 5-3, March 11 and then on Friday beat Salem, a final four team from last year, 6-5.
The Raiders play a non-region make up game with Franklin County on Friday and then return to region play Monday at Habersham Central and Wednesday at Rockdale County.
In Tuesday’s big win, Madison County trailed the Loganville 2-0 in the third inning before unleashing an offensive onslaught.
“After we got down 2-0, I wanted to say, ‘we’ve got them right where we want them,’” Griffeth said, pointing to recent comebacks against Heritage and Salem.
Kennison tied the game 2-2 with a two-run single down the right field line and Drake put the Raiders ahead 4-2 by ripping a double off the centerfield wall.
Ben Morris then provided two insurance scores with a two-out, two-run single.
“It was big to come back and put a six-spot up,” Griffeth said.
The hit parade continued in the fourth with Kennison driving home two more runs with a two-out double to centerfield to up the Raider lead to 7-2. Drake followed with another double to bring home another run.
Madison County plated its final four runs off Loganville miscues.
A dropped fly ball allowed two more runs to score in the bottom of the fifth, and the Raiders scored twice more in the sixth via passed balls, bringing the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
“The game’s out of hand and we still score off two passed balls in the last inning,” Griffeth said. “So the kids are hungry to succeed, or excel. That’s probably the better word.”
Raiders notch two come-from-behind wins
Madison County’s victories over Heritage and Salem came in much different fashion than the team’s thumping of Loganville.
With the Heritage game tied 3-3, Bracken Turner doubled home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Seth Fleming supplied an insurance score with an RBI double as the Raiders won their region opener.
Reliever Dustin Roberts earned the win, working one and one-third innings, allowing two hits and no walks.
In the victory over Salem, Madison County scored four runs in the top of the sixth to overtake the Seminoles in Conyers.
Matt Kennison singled home the tying run that inning and then went for second on the throw to the plate, drawing an errant throw from Salem’s catcher. That allowed the Raider go-ahead run to score as well.
Matthew Robinson worked two and one-third innings in relief to earn the win, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Madison County’s glovework and bullpen were essential to both victories, Griffeth said.
“We’ve just come up big with relief pitching and team defense,” Raider coach Charlie Griffeth said.
The coach noted that Madison County recorded no strikeouts in its error-free win against Heritage, which means the defense had to make its share of plays.
“We played great defense,” Griffeth said. “To have 21 outs recorded and no strikeouts, they put it in play 21 times and we didn’t make an error.’
Griffeth pointed to similar defensive excellence in the victory over Salem. Roberts ran down a ball hit to right centerfield that “that just had double on it the whole way,” the coach said. Griffeth also pointed to a “great play” from Bo Dalton on a ground ball to first.
Raider starters Jack May and Ethan Seagraves received no-decisions in the Heritage and Salem games, respectively.
May worked five and two-thirds, allowing three runs (all earned) and four hits.
Seagraves pitched four and two-thirds innings against Salem, surrendering five runs (all earned), eight hits and one walk while striking out four batters.
Offensively, Kennison led Madison County against Heritage with two singles and Ian Drake drove home a run with a sac fly. In addition to his RBI double, Fleming also had a single.
Kennison had two singles and two RBIs against Salem.