GIBSON, Ga. - The Glascock County baseball team will have to play a third game to see whether it can extend the deepest playoff run in school history one more round.
The Panthers split the first two games of their Class A state quarterfinal series against Long County and former Glascock County coach Albert Lodge.
Glascock County won the first game 13-2, but was denied the sweep by an 8-5 loss. The deciding game is at 5 p.m. today in Gibson.
The Panthers jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 1 after Derrick Wood's double drove in two runs. Lodge pulled pitcher Clay Long after the first, when he surrendered two runs.
"My plan for Long was to leave him in if we had a lead," Lodge said. "I knew to win the series, he would have to win a game for us. As soon as they got up, I wanted to pull him to preserve his arm."
Soon after Long's departure, the Panthers' offense stepped up.
The Panthers sent up 14 batters and scored nine runs in the bottom of the fourth to push the lead to 13-2. Wood had a two-run single in the inning and had seven total RBI in the doubleheader.
Timothy Murphey pitched four innings, surrendering two runs and striking out five for the win. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the mercy rule.
"We hit the ball great in the first game, and our pitching was outstanding," Glascock County coach Don Mims said.
Long got the start again for the second game, but it was his offense, not his pitching, that catapulted the Blue Tide to the series-saving victory.
Long tagged two home runs - in the first and fifth innings - and sandwiched a three-run double in the second to give Long County a third game.
The Blue Tide posted six runs against Glascock County ace Matt Kent. Kent lasted only 1 1/3 innings and was pulled after walking four straight batters and giving up five runs in the second.
"The main difference was the strike zone in the second game," Mims said. "The second umpire called a very tight strike zone, and we missed on a lot of close ones."
Mims said Kent was probably shaken up a bit by the "border-line" calls in the second inning, because he was sharp in the first.
The Panthers inched back into the game, scoring one in the second, three in the third, and one in the fourth.
Wood again spearheaded the offense with a third-inning home run and an RBI double in the fourth. Josh Daniel added four singles in the losing cause.
"We are ecstatic to get the second game, obviously," Lodge said. "We played poorly, and we still got the split. As far as momentum goes, I don't think we have it because we are out of pitchers."
Reach Jonathan Heeter at (706) 823-3224.
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