Valdosta Daily Times

March 29, 2013

Lowndes hosts Colquitt with first place on the line

Christian Malone
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Today, the top two teams in Region 1-6A will meet on the baseball diamond.

Second-place Colquitt County will make the drive to Winnersville today to face the region-leading Lowndes Vikings in a doubleheader that could end up deciding the region championship.

Game 1 of today’s doubleheader starts at 4:30 p.m. at Noel George Field.

“Big games,” Lowndes head coach Danny Redshaw said. “We’re in first, a game ahead of them. It’s probably not for the region title, but it’s going to go a long way to determining who wins it.

“If we win one of them, we can probably clinch a playoff berth. (If we) win both of them, (we’ll) put ourselves in real good shape. But it’s not going to be easy.”

Lowndes (9-5) has a perfect 6-0 region record, while Colquitt (9-4) has a 5-1 record in 1-6A. The Vikings swept doubleheaders against Coffee, Tift County and Valdosta in their first six region games. Colquitt swept Brunswick and Valdosta in its first two region doubleheaders, but split with Tift last Friday.

Colquitt will bring a talented team to Noel George Field today.

“They’re good. A typical Moultrie team,” Redshaw said. “They’ve got great pitching. They’re well coached. They swing the bats very well. We had three great games with them last year, and they got us in the last one for the region title. We’re looking forward to the game.”

“We enjoy competing against them,” he added. “They’re going to give us their best, and we’re going to give them our best.”

The Packers are hitting .357 as a team, and are averaging eight runs a game.

“They swing it well, especially in the middle of the order,” Redshaw said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot. They’re going to put the ball in play.”

Colquitt third baseman Ross Goforth is having a monster year. He is batting .512 and has hit seven home runs and driven in 22 runs in just 13 games.

“(Goforth) is killing the ball,” Redshaw said. “He’s got seven home runs.”

Aubrey McCarty, a switch-hitting pitcher/first baseman who has signed with Vanderbilt, is batting .545 with eight doubles, one home run and 18 RBIs. Leadoff hitter Mack Hathcock is batting .438 and has a .561 on-base percentage.

McCarty, who is ambidextrous, will start game 1 on the mound. He pitches right-handed to right-handed hitters, then switches his specially-made glove to his other hand and becomes a southpaw when he faces left-handed hitters. He currently has a 2-2 record and a 4.32 earned run average.

Cole Bryant will get the start in game 2 for the Packers. He currently has a 3-0 record and a 2.33 ERA.

“They’re a good, solid defensive team, and they’ve got some good pitching,” Redshaw said. “(Coach Tony Kirkland has) three or four guys on the mound that he can run out there.”

Lowndes will send left-hander Cory Pope to the mound in game 1. Pope is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA and has struck out 42 batters in 34 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Dalton Register will take the mound for game 2. Last Friday, Register and reliever Logan Hutchinson combined to pitch a three-hit shutout against Valdosta. Register is 2-0 with a 4.14 ERA. He has struck out 13 batters in 23 2/3 innings.

“Cory Pope’s been our game 1 guy every Friday. He pitches well. He’s had a good year so far,” Redshaw said. “Dalton Register’s been our game 2 starter, and he’s thrown well. We’ve got Hutchinson back healthy, and he’s been lights out a couple of times when he’s gone out there and pitched. We’ve got some other guys that help us out of the bullpen (like) Blake Smith, Andy Perkins has thrown it well for us, Henry Hoff has thrown well. ... I like our pitching.”

Lowndes’ leading hitter is catcher Josh Day, who is batting .410 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He leads the Vikings in all three categories. Smith is batting .387. Designated hitter Buck Carter is hitting .349 with one homer and five RBIs. Cam Buescher has a .295 average with one home run and nine runs batted in. The Vikings are hitting. 281 as a team.

The Vikings have played some of their best baseball in region games.

“I think the biggest thing in the games we’ve won region-wise is we’ve played good defense,” Redshaw said. “For the most part, we’ve pitched well, and hit it decent. ... It’s been a total team effort. Our kids have worked hard. I love the way this team competes. The senior leadership we’ve got (is good). These guys just get after it. They go play baseball and have fun.”