Flowery Branch’s playoff fate will be determined later this week in a critical baseball series against Winder-Barrow. But on Monday night, the Falcons proved they’re going to do everything in their power to make a run at the postseason.
Dylan Gibeau hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning to score teammate Jonathon Hughes, and the Falcons knocked off Loganville 11-10 at Hog Mountain Sports Complex after a back-and-forth Region 8-AAAAA contest in which they trailed the Red Devils 9-4 at one point.
The win was the Falcons’ first against Loganville in three seasons under head coach Scott Myers.
“We just kind of threw the kitchen sink at them and pulled out on top, scored some runs,” Myers said. “We got some big hits in some big spots. Of course, I’m very proud of them right now.
“We just kind of pieced it together. That was the big thing for me, to be able to throw the kitchen sink, have everybody throwing, and everybody competing and people coming up in big spots.”
Part of piecing it together meant Flowery Branch used seven pitchers in the game. Myers admitted that using so many pitchers was by design, a way to save pitchers’ arms for the remainder of the week, which will feature the Falcons playing three games in the next four days. Those three games will determine Flowery Branch’s playoff fate.
If the Falcons win tonight’s series finale at Loganville and sweep their two-game series against Winder-Barrow on Thursday and Friday, they’ll secure the region’s No. 2 seed and a home playoff series.
But a loss tonight and one loss once against Winder-Barrow, which was tied with Flowery Branch for the fourth — and final — playoff spot in the region entering Monday night, and the Falcons could miss the playoff altogether.
“We have to beat Winder, unless we get a little help from Apalachee (tonight against Winder-Barrow), but we have to beat Winder,” Myers said. “As it stands right now, we need to sweep Winder.”
At times Monday night, it looked like Flowery Branch might implode. But the Falcons, who issued 10 walks, allowed 11 stolen bases and committed three errors, kept fighting and coming up with big plays, even taking advantage of key Loganville errors.
After blowing a 4-2 lead they built in the third inning, the Falcons found themselves trailing 9-4 heading into the fifth inning.
That’s when the dugout got loud and the runs started to come for Flowery Branch. The Falcons proceeded to score three runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three more in the seventh to cap off the come-from-behind victory.
“We knew if we got loud (in the dugout) we’d get into the pitcher’s head,” Gibeau said.
“When we got loud, that’s when they were having mistakes, and we capitalized on them.”
Trailing 10-8 heading into the final inning, Flowery Branch’s Matt McVey and Cooper
Harrison each reached base after being hit by pitches. Then with one out, Hughes walked to load the bases.
McVey scored a few pitches later when Loganville catcher Morgan Copeland threw an errant ball into right field after trying to hold Hughes at first base. Harrison then scored on a wild pitch, which was followed by another catcher throwing error, which moved Hughes to third base.
That’s when Gibeau delivered the game-winning single.
“I believe everyone out here wants to get into the playoffs,” Gibeau said. “And I think we played like it tonight.”
Loganville took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of a pair of Flowery Branch errors.
The Falcons took their first lead in the bottom of the third when Loganville third baseman Chandler Downing couldn’t field a routine grounder with two outs. With the extended inning, the Falcons scored four runs.
Hughes walked to start the two-out rally, followed by a single from Justin Seabolt. Gibeau reached on an error and then Stephen Skeggs doubled to score Hughes. Andrew Nolt finished the inning with a two-run double.
“That’s what good teams do,” Myers said, crediting his team for taking advantage of the error. “I feel comfortable where we are, and going forward.”
Loganville scored four runs in the fourth inning, taking advantage of two wild pitches and four walks to go along with two hits in the inning. The Red Devils added three more runs in the fifth inning, capitalizing on a Falcons error at home plate to go along with two more walks and a single.
Hughes started the bottom of the fifth inning with a single for the Falcons, before Seabolt and Gibeau each reached base on a walk. Hughes eventually scored on a wild pitch, while Seabolt scored on a single from Skeggs. Gibeau scored on a squeeze bunt from Nolt, who reached base on a throwing error by Loganville’s third baseman.
Hughes then led off the sixth inning with a solo home run to left centerfield, making the score 9-8. The Falcons proceeded to load the bases with two outs, but Duece Davidson grounded back to the pitcher and the runners were left stranded.