Even when looking elimination in the face, the Winder-Barrow High School baseball team never blinked.
The Diamond Doggs defeated South Paulding in a deciding game of a best-of-three series Tuesday after putting six runs on the board in the top of the seventh. WBHS (22-7) would go on to an 11-4 win in a game which the score was not indicative of how close the contest was.
The Bulldoggs, who will face Pope in the second round beginning Thursday, trailed South Paulding 4-3 after the fifth inning before scoring two runs in the six and six in the seventh. WBHS, despite playing on its home field, was the designated visiting team Monday after a coin flip.
Drew Dunagan worked the first 4.1 innings and while he did not earn the win, earned the praise of coach Brian Smith.
“Drew knew he had the team on his back and he came through with a great effort,” Smith said after the game, which lasted nearly three hours. “He has been our third pitcher but we believe in him and he delivered.”
The Bulldoggs took a quick lead Tuesday.
Travis Demeritte led off the game with a solo homer on a 1-2 pitch from South Paulding starting pitcher Ben Sandmann.
However, the visiting Spartans took a 2-1 lead after the first inning.
An RBI by Dunagan in the top of the third evened the score. WBHS regained the lead in the top of the fifth when Demeritte scored on a throwing error.
South Paulding scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 4-3 advantage.
By the top of the seventh, the Spartans had gone deep in their pitching rotation. South Paulding used five pitchers in the third game of the series.
The third game was delayed Saturday and Monday because of weather conditions.
“After everything we put in on this field day after day, it was great to get something positive out of it,” Smith said. “It was just day after day of rain. We’d work on it and the rain would come back.”
In Friday’s doubleheader, WBHS took game one 8-2 before South Paulding rallied for an 11-8 win in the nightcap, forcing a third and deciding contest.
Demeritte recorded 15 strikeouts in the opener and connected for his 10th home run of the season. Sophomore Cole Baggett also homered in the series opener.
WBHS had a chance to put the series away, but three errors in the second contest allowed South Paulding back in the contest. The teams had to dodge rainy weather Friday afternoon but the doubleheader was able to be completed. The third game was originally set for Saturday, but was first postponed to Monday and then to Tuesday due to Seattle-like weather during the past several days.
Blake Marbut got the call in game two and worked into the fourth inning before being relieved by Blake Oviedo. Baggett would eventually close the game out.
The Georgia High School Association ruled the next round, originally set for Wednesday, would be delayed a day since several teams were still trying to complete the opening round because of recent rain. Thursday’s doubleheader at Pope High School was tentatively set to begin at 4 p.m., although Smith said Tuesday night nothing had been finalized between the coaches.
Marbut will likely get the start in the series opener. Marbut did not pitch in Tuesday’s game against South Forsyth.