Jim Turner doesn’t have to rack his brain to remember the last time his squad played a decisive third game in a playoff series against Darlington.
The FPD head baseball coach led his softball team into the third game of a playoff series at home to Darlington during the state softball playoffs seven months ago, but the Vikings lost the final two games of the series.
The Vikings will pursue a happier ending Thursday against Darlington in Game 3 of their GHSA Class A private school state quarterfinals playoff series.
FPD won Game 1 10-0 on Wednesday and Darlington took Game 2 7-3. The third game is set for 3 p.m. Thursday.
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“In this thing, both teams know the season is over,” Turner said. “You’re going to have two highly motivated teams. It’s going to be a great finish to the series.”
FPD (23-2) stormed out to a 10-0 win in the series opener with its offense clicking for nine hits. Sophomore left-hander Kevin Moreau was dominant on the mound, allowing just two hits and one walk to go with seven strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
“His fastball moves a lot, it tails, he’s just got great command of his pitches,” senior Sam Joyce said. “He really knows what he’s doing up there; he’s a smart kid. He’s going to be a heck of a pitcher. He already is.”
The Vikings pushed Moreau to an early lead with a five-run second inning. All five came with two outs. After a bases-loaded walk to Sam Pope, Joyce smacked a bases-clearing double to put the Vikings up 4-0. Tanner Johnston then knocked in Joyce with the second of his three Game 1 singles.
FPD added four more runs in the fifth on a RBI double by Hunter Hotchkiss and a three-run double by Joshua Weaver. Johnston ended the game in the sixth inning with a walk-off single scoring Pope.
The Vikings’ bats largely remained silent in Game 2, with much of that credit going to Darlington starter Burton Dulaney.
Dulaney struck out 12 in his complete-game effort, allowing just one hit and one earned run in the outing.
“He was a good pitcher, mixed it up,” Joyce said. “We feel like we should have hit it a little more, but we’ll come out (Thursday) and see what happens.”
FPD had a staff night in Game 2, with five different pitchers coming to the mound. The top of the Darlington order gave all five pitchers some trouble. The Tigers’ first five hitters went 7-for-15 with three walks and six RBI in Game 2. Brad Butler knocked in three runs, and Dulaney, Miles Bearden and David Grindstoff each had two hits.
The Vikings got as close as three runs in the sixth inning when a steal by Joyce forced a throw into center field, which scored Jake Peavy and Joyce.