The third time was the charm for Billy Roper and the Adairsville baseball team. Roper had been stuck on 199 wins as a head coach for two straight games, dropping contests to Haralson County and Sonoraville. The Tigers (10-17, 5-11 Region 6-AAA) finally pulled through Tuesday night, topping Bremen (10-15, 6-11) 4-3.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Roper said after his team doused him in a celebratory Gatorade bath. “The guys, they never heard me talk about it. I said, ‘Guys, it’s on y’all. If it happens, it happens.’ I never would’ve thought it would’ve took this long but it just tells you what kind of guys, they’re selfless guys and they want to win for other people besides themselves.”
The Tigers were spurred by a strong start from Caden Gibbs and a mostly solid relief corps of Garrett Mishoe and Sam Seaman.
Gibbs pitched four innings of four-hit, one-run baseball, walking one and striking out three. His lone run was allowed in the first inning after a double to lead off the game.
He settled down after that first inning, allowing just two hits over his final three frames.
He was, however, bailed out by what was likely the play of the game from third baseman Kyler Pelfrey. With the bases loaded in the second inning on a two-out error, Pelfrey dove to his left to snare a line drive off the bat of the Blue Devils’ Hayden Jones to save a likely two-run double.
“That was huge, bases loaded, that’s two runs and they’ve got a little momentum going. That would’ve made them go up, what, 3-2,” Roper said. “Those plays that were made in the middle of the game, they definitely go back to help us.”
Behind Gibbs, Mishoe pitched two shutout innings of relief before running into trouble in the seventh inning.
After hitting the leadoff batter, Mishoe served up a long home run to Sam Thompson to bring the game within one.
Seaman was able to come in and pitch a mostly clean seventh inning, allowing one hit and striking out one, to secure the win.
“That’s been the kind of games we’ve been in all year,” Roper said. “Tonight, we could’ve pouted when they hit the home run but we didn’t, we came back and people got it done. If you go back and look at our box scores, that’s kind of how it’s been all year.”
Those strong pitching lines were backed by a Tigers’ offense that produced in spurts but managed an effective eight-hit performance, which came courtesy of six different players, and took advantage of two Bremen errors.
Adairsville gave Gibbs an early lead with a quick two-run answer in the bottom of the first inning.
After Noah Dutton got it started with a one-out single, center fielder Taylor Whitley hit a two-out single and both were driven in on an two-run double from left fielder Hunter Hice.
It was the late-game runs that proved to be the difference for the Tigers, however.
After struggling to get many baserunners after that first inning, Adairsville finally got to Blue Devils’ starter Braden Green in the fifth with a leadoff single from Pelfrey and an RBI double from Seaman.
The next inning, pinch hitter Nation reached on an error to get things started and another pinch hitter, Huskins, delivered the RBI single to bring him home.
“Tonight we were able to get those big hits that we weren’t able to get all year,” Roper said. “Tonight, things went our way. There wasn’t an error that made us give them an extra at-bat, we had a couple hit batsmen but we still were able to get out of it.”