The Bethlehem Christian Academy baseball team didn’t let a last-minute change in location for its first-round GISA Class AAA playoff series against Valwood School throw it off.
The seventh-seeded Knights made quick work of the 10th-seed Valiants Monday and Tuesday, May 3-4, topping them 10-6 in Game 1 and following that performance up with a 12-5 victory in Game 2 to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight.
It’s the first playoff series win since 2015 for BCA (12-11), which advanced to take on No. 2 Tiftarea Academy (17-8) in a best-of-three state quarterfinal series slated to begin Friday, May 7, in Tifton. Game 1 of that series will be played 6 p.m. Friday, and Game 2 is scheduled for noon Saturday, May 8, with a third game to follow if necessary.
BCA was originally scheduled to host Valwood (7-17) in the first round, but the series was moved to Valwood’s home field in Hahira, just north of Valdosta, due to the severe weather forecast for north Georgia Monday and Tuesday.
The Knights still acted as the home team in Game 1 Monday and held a narrow 3-2 lead before creating some breathing room with a three-run fourth inning. Parker Torres reached on a dropped third strike to open the inning and wound up stealing second base, third base and home. Brady Logan, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs out of the No. 9 spot in the batting order, followed suit by singling and eventually stealing home before a sacrifice fly by Bryce Peppers (2-for-3, double, RBI) chased home Ethan Guthas to extend the Knights’ advantage to 6-2.
Logan’s RBI single in the fifth made it 7-2, and BCA put up three more runs in the sixth to go up 10-3. Valwood pushed across three runs in the seventh but couldn’t get any closer.
Conner Hilton picked up the win on the mound for BCA, allowing three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of work with two walks and seven strikeouts.
BCA continued its offensive onslaught in Game 2 Tuesday, pounding out 12 hits in its rout of Valwood.
Trevor Slaick’s two-run double in the top of the first inning set the tone for the day. Cody Craft added a two-run single in the second, and a two-run triple by Hilton and RBI single by Drew Stiles highlighted a four-run fourth that pushed the Knights’ advantage up to 9-0.
Valwood got on the board in the fifth with a two-run homer by Connor Hutto, but BCA immediately got the runs back in sixth on a bases-loaded walk by Ty Whiting and an RBI single by Torres.
After the Valiants pushed across three runs in the sixth, Hilton’s RBI groundout in the seventh made it 12-5.
Guthas led BCA at the plate with three hits, while Slaick and Torres had two hits apiece. Hilton added two walks to go along with his triple and three RBIs.
Peppers started on the mound for the Knights and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, working around five walks to earn the win. Lawson Wooten and Maddox Collier each logged an inning in relief to close the game out.
VAL 101 001 3 — 6 9 7
BCA 210 313 X — 10 10 1
BCA 230 402 1 — 12 12 2
VAL 000 023 0 — 5 4 1