Turning in the jerseys while on a seven-game winning streak was a hard thing for a revitalized Madison County baseball team to do.
With a 4-0 victory over Winder-Barrow last Wednesday (April 28) in their season finale, the surging Red Raiders (15-11, 12-8) ended the year one game out of fourth place in Region 8-AAAA. The top four teams make the state playoffs.
Simply put, the team ran out of games on the schedule.
“I feel like we could finish second if we played everybody another time,” coach Charlie Griffeth said. “But we can’t, so that’s how it finished for us — on a high note.”
Matthew Robinson, who finished the year with a 4-0 record and a 1.20 ERA with two saves and 74 strikeouts in 18 appearances, pitched a complete game shutout against Winder-Barrow in his final game as a Red Raider.
The senior side-armer allowed just four hits and no walks while hitting one batter and striking out 10.
Offensively, Daniel Townsend went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Steven Tiller had a sacrifice fly RBI and Dustin Roberts had an RBI double. Jarrett Seawright also had a triple.
The win capped an 8-2 run for Madison County during the second half of the region schedule, with the team playing perhaps the best baseball in the region, save for Loganville.
“Even though we’re not going to the playoffs, we felt like we were the second-best team in the region at the end,” Griffeth said. “It’s all attributed to players improving.”
Madison County, which lost seven seniors off last year’s team, won 15 games this spring despite a 4-7 start.
Griffeth acknowledged that times were tough early on for this group. Madison County lost by seven or more runs four times during the first half of the region schedule.
“It was trying to survive,” Griffeth said. “Kids kept pulling along and turned the corner.”
Even though Madison County finished with some momentum heading into next year and will have eight seniors returning for 2011, it will suffer some key losses — Robinson, Bracken Turner and Dustin Roberts.
Turner has been a mainstay behind the plate for the program and hitting .357 with four home runs and 24 RBIs, while Roberts had three productive seasons in the Red Raider lineup. He hit .323 this year with two homers and 13 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Robinson, who hit .337 with three homeruns and 12 RBIs, enjoyed one of the more unique careers in Madison County’s baseball history, starting every game for four years at shortstop.
The team also loses seniors Brandon Doolittle and Eddie Gilbert.
Madison County High School will honor this year’s baseball team May 8 at 6 p.m. an awards banquet at Union Baptist Church’s new fellowship hall.