Losses in their past two Region 3-AAAAA games forced the Bradwell Tigers to pack the bus and travel to Tift County for the first round of the state playoffs today.
The Tigers will play a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. They face a Blue Devils team with a 19-7 overall record and 8-4 Region 1-AAAAA mark.
Tift County finished in second place in its region while the Tigers were third in 3-AAAAA. If the two teams split games in today’s doubleheader, the deciding contest will be played Saturday.
Tigers coach Rhett Hellgren said he plans to start Jacob Dill on the mound in the first game.
“He’s been our No. 1 pitcher this year, so I’m going with him,” Hellgren said.
Depending on the outcome of the opener, Eric Wells is likely to take the mound for the second game.
Hellgren said outfielder Alton Malpass, who was injured earlier this season, is healthy and will be ready to play. The coach said Malpass will help the team on offense.
“It’s good to have him back,” Hellgren said. He’s a senior and he’s been a leader for our team and it was a shame he had to sit out the last few games.”
Freshman standout Cody Hill (Fleck) also has returned to the lineup.
This is the third straight season the Tigers have made it to the state playoffs. Tift County missed the playoffs last year and this is the first time in 20 years they will host a playoff game, according to the Tifton Gazette.
The Blue Devils are averaging 6.4 runs per game while the Tigers average 9.6. Tifton has allowed 121 runs and scored 167 this season. BI has outscored opponents, 241-153.
“This is it,” Hellgren said. “This is what we’ve worked for all year. If we play up to our potential, we have a good chance of beating them.”