WARNER ROBINS — Prior to Northside’s GHSA Class AAAAA second-round playoff series with Redan, Eagles head coach Chris Harrelson said he had heard his opponent could “base hit you to death.”
In the rubber game of the series that had been dominated by starting pitchers, Redan did just that. The Raiders posted 14 hits — the first 11 of which were singles — and advanced to the quarterfinals with an 8-6 win Thursday at Dyson Field.
“I thought we were a better hitting team than that,” Redan head coach Marvin Pruitt said when asked how his team was able to respond after being held to two hits in the series opener. “I was just waiting for the bats to come alive.”
Northside’s hitters stung the ball, as well. The Eagles put together 12 hits, including three by Jack Montgomery, but some of their hardest hit balls went right at defenders. Redan fielders made four errors but also had three double plays, including one that ended the ballgame.
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“Redan played a tough game on the road,” Harrelson said, “but I’m not taking anything away from my guys ... We hit the baseball best (Thursday).”
The game was all that a playoff series finale should be. The lead changed hands five times and the teams combined to throw eight pitchers. Deion Williams earned his first win of the season with 2/3 innings of relief. Redan’s Gary Mele, who played catcher through the first 20 innings of the series, pitched the seventh to earn his first career save.
“He’s the only one we had left that had any kind of pitching experience,” Pruitt said.
Northside starter Nick Boutwell allowed just one hit through the first three innings, but the Raiders reached him in the fourth.
Redan (19-12) batted around, collecting seven singles and four runs in the process. The inning ended only when Northside left-fielder Matt Nettles gunned down David Richards trying to score on a base hit.
“If we start hitting, hitting can be contagious,” Pruitt said. “If they get in a groove, they can put some hits together.”
Northside (20-11) wasted no time regaining the lead.
Shortstop Jordan Couillard led off with a line drive that rolled to the wall in right-center field. The senior stretched the hit into a triple and, when the Redan second baseman’s throw hit the dirt then bounced out of play, Couillard was awarded home plate.
Nettles and catcher Danny Spires followed immediately with back-to-back solo home runs as the Eagles went up 5-4.
Redan regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth with runs off a sacrifice fly and an infield hit, but Northside tied the game again in the top of the sixth.
Redan broke a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the sixth off Couillard after two were out. Deion Williams lined a double down the left-field line for the Raiders’ first extra base hit. He scored on a single by Patrick Smith who then scored on a double by Mele.