Mother Nature threw a curve ball or two at the Bradwell Tigers, forcing changes to the team’s schedule that resulted in six games in eight days. The rain also thwarted the Tigers’ first chance at beating Jenkins High on Monday in a game that would have decided the No. 1 region spot.
The Tigers were in Savannah and had 3 hits against one of the Warriors’ top pitchers as the clouds rolled in. They were ahead 1-0 when the storm hit.
"Zach Hawkins got a base hit got on second on a fast ball and Josh Rivers had a base hit to bring Hawkins in," Tiger coach Rhett Hellgren said. "But then the rains came and washed out the results."
On Tuesday, however, the Tigers played the Rebels and took an 8-4 win, clinching the No. 3 spot in region 3-AAAAA.
Tiger Josh Rivers had a homerun and a single. Josh Driggers had a double and a single, and DeAnte Day had two singles. Day pitched 6 and 1/3 innings and took the win. Steven Dill came in to finish the game and got the save.
The Tigers have not been third or better in more than five years.
"We are third right now and now it’s in our own hands," Hellgren said. "Everything we do … if we win out there is a good shot we can win the region. Our shot is to win out and win the region."
On Wednesday afternoon, the Tigers hosted Brunswick but lost 18-5 after giving up 14 hits and committing 4 errors. Hellgren played his reserves against Brunswick doing his best to keep his starters and pitchers fresh for a Thursday makeup game against Jenkins, a region game tonight against Johnson at home and Monday’s makeup game at Beach.
The game was three hours long and despite the loss, Hellgren said it doesn’t change their season goal.
"I’ve been in Liberty County for 12 years and I’ve coached for three and I can’t recall any one time where Bradwell (baseball) was the No. 1 seed," he said. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win the region. We slipped up at the first part of the season and lost to Groves. We have to play like we are capable of playing."
The next three region games will decide the Tigers’ placement. Hellgren said he thinks his players need to believe in themselves.
"When I came in here three years ago, the program was broken," Hellgren said. "I’ve worked at Bradwell for nine years and I decided to coach because my son asked me to. The kids just need direction and someone stable. I’m stable and I’m going to be here."
The coach and his squad have put in long hours, practicing for almost three hours a day at the beginning of the season.
Hellgren said volunteer coaches Rick Glisson, James Hill and Eric Lukkarinen have been instrumental in getting the kids to develop during the off-season by helping him in the fall ball league for Bradwell’s squad.
He added coach Jeff Eastlake has aided the team as well.
"They’ve really helped out in the fact that they are here almost every day," Hellgren said. "We are getting there. I have really good kids and I love them and they are trying their best. We have a long way to go don’t get me wrong but if we have no errors and we throw strikes we can compete with anybody."
A win against Jenkins would help the Tigers nab the top spot. The results from Thursday’s makeup game and tonight’s game against Johnson will be in Sunday’s Courier.