WARNER ROBINS -- The Georgia bats finally came alive Saturday in the Little League Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament, as the team from Warner Robins American Little League rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat Florida 7-6.
The win came after Georgia lost its initial pool play game Friday night, 10-2 to North Carolina.
Both coach Randy Dempsey and manager Martin Pinckney said the players had deer in the headlights looks Friday night but came out Saturday ready to play.
(Pinckney) told us we had to flush (Friday) night down the toilet, relief pitcher Tee Adams said.
After giving up four runs in the first inning Saturday, Georgia started playing fundamental baseball.
In the bottom of the fourth inning and down two runs, Georgia manufactured three runs to take the lead.
Chase Padgett reached first on a error. Leyton Pinckney placed down a perfect bunt. Kody Winner struck out, but Cameron Jones reached second on a error one batter later, scoring Padgett. Adams hit a sacrifice to tie the game at 6, scoring Pinckney, then Connor Bookout hit a single to score Jones for the go-ahead run.
Martin Pinckney said once the team started getting momentum, he could sense a difference in how things were going.
You could see it in their eyes that they started believing, the manager said.
Leyton Pinckney pitched the first two innings for Georgia, surrendering an early three-run homer to Tate Whatley (2-for-2, four RBI) in the first inning. He also gave up a run-producing double to Cody Ginther.
After the first three batters for Georgia were retired in the first, Warner Robins scored in the bottom of the second on Coby Reeds single to center field, driving home Jackson Jones.
Tee Adams came in to pitch for Georgia in the third, finishing the game with two strikeouts and a run allowed.
Adams admitted he was a little nervous when he was called in to pitch but said his team helped him get the win.
Georgia scored three runs -- all with two out -- in the bottom of the third to inch closer to Florida. Georgia took advantage of three walks and picked up singles from Jones, Reggie Ling and Jackson Will.
Christian Lairds sacrifice gave Florida a 6-4 lead in the top of the fourth.
Bookout normally handles the catching duties for Georgia, but Jackson Will handled things behind the plate Saturday. Martin Pinckney said Bookout was just tired after Friday nights game.
When it mattered, however, Bookouts single gave Georgia the offense it needed for the win.
I told him, When you got in the ball game, you gave us the game winning hit, Dempsey said.
Cody Ginther took the loss for Florida (1-1) in relief of starter Austin Eldridge.
Georgia (1-1) will play Alabama at 10 a.m. on Monday.