It may need to play even better Wednesday when it hosts Blessed Trinity, currently ranked No. 1 in the GACA coaches baseball poll, at times to be announced. A Thursday game would be played if necessary.
The 24-3 Tigers, the state’s No. 4 ranked team and the No. 1 seed out of Region 7-AA, plays the Titans, Region 6’s No. 2 seed, who swept North Oconee in their Friday double-header.
Adairsville advanced with a 14-0 win in game one behind the one-hit pitching of ace Jamey Barnes and the second, 15-0, behind the three-hit pitching of Cody Kremer and Trey Gulledge.
“You don’t expect your first-round matchups to go like this,” head coach Eric Bishop said Friday. “Not knowing that much about them, I didn’t realize how young of a team they have. They have no seniors, two juniors, and we’re senior-laden [with] nine seniors, and have more playoff and varsity game experience, and that probably had a lot to do with the outcome of today’s games.”
He said Barnes was particularly effective. “Jamey’s done that for us all year. It’s tough to expect what we’ve gotten out of him, not just this year but in his entire high school career. He’s been highly effective.”
The coach said the combination of Kremer and Gulledge on the mound in game two was tough, too. Kremer dominated the Blue Devils in his two innings, allowing no hits and striking out four. Gulledge gave up three hits and struck out four.
“Cody just keeps getting better and better and stronger and stronger,” Bishop said.
Bishop said giving Gulledge some quality playoff innings could prove pivotal in the playoffs. “That’ll build his confidence. If we go to a three-game series, he’ll be able to handle the task at hand.”
Adairsville 14, Manchester 0
The Tigers sent an early message to the visitors as Barnes struck out the first three Blue Devils he faced.
Adairsville’s offense cranked up immediately in the bottom of the frame as Brandon Blome smacked his first pitch into right field, Michael Gwin lined his second offering there as well, giving the Tigers runners on first and second. Cody Beemiller then drove in the winning run and more when he put the sweetest part of his bat on his first pitch and staked his team to a 3-0 lead.
Kremer scored the inning’s fourth run, drawing a base-on-balls with four straight pitches, moving to third on a Barnes’ double, then reaching home courtesy of a Trey Gulledge single.
Manchester put its first runner, Keon Thompson, on base with one away in the second inning courtesy of a walk. Thompson moved to third on a double by designated hitter Deltre Gamble — the Blue Devils’ only hit of the game — then found himself part of a bases-loaded threat courtesy of a walk. The next play the Tigers’ Michael Gwin smothered a hot shot and rather than take the easy out by stepping on first base, fired the ball home to force Thompson, ringing up the second out of the inning. Another Blue Devil was caught off first base for the third out.
The Tigers’ hitting machine really got untracked in the bottom of the second, scoring nine runs on six hits, to inflate the score to 13-0. Scoring for Adairsville were Blome (two), Gwin, Beemiller, Kremer, Logan Tant, Trey Gulledge, Caleb McCreary and Ta-Li Martin, who hit a three-run homer.
The Blue Devils were set down in order in the top of the third while the Tigers put two men on base, one through a hit and the other by being hit by a pitch, but the inning ended with no runs crossing the plate.
Manchester went quietly in the fourth. Beemiller scored Adairsville’s final run of the contest in the bottom of the frame. The Blue Devils went in order in the top of the fifth.
Adairsville 15, Manchester 0
The Tigers scored nine runs on five hits and five walks in the top of the first inning, playing as the visiting team in the matchup, showing off their hitting and base-running prowess while taking advantage of some control issues on the part of Blue Devil pitching.
Blome scored the first run of the contest, singling to center, moving to second when Gwin got on through an error, taking third on a wild pitch and scoring on a wild pitch to Kremer.
Gwin went to second and third on wild pitches then scored, along with Beemiller, when Kremer doubled, as Adairsville jumped off to a 3-0 lead. Kremer crossed the plate on a single by Trey Gulledge, who was later to score on a wild pitch, for a 5-0 lead.
Trent Gulledge, Caleb McCreary, Blome and Gwin closed out scoring in the inning for Adairsville.
Kremer greeted the Blue Devils with his version of the fast ball in the bottom of the first and it proved overpowering in the early going as he struck out all three on just 11 pitches.
The Tigers scored one run in the top of the second when Trent Gulledge singled, went to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a single by Kyle Adams, putting Adairsville up 10-0.
The Manchester bats were marginally more successful in the bottom of the second, as Gamble reached base on an error and took second on a wild pitch. He then was tagged out trying to steal third. The other two batters in the inning had even less luck as one was forced at first and the third struck out.
Adairsville tacked on its 11th run in the top of the third when Zach Sherwood got on with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a single by Logan Tant and scored on a wild pitch.
Trey Gulledge took over on the mound in the third inning for Adairsville, striking out two, allowing a single, and coaxing a flyball to left center.
The Tigers closed out their scoring with four runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Adams doubled to start the frame, went to third on a wild pitch then scored on a sacrifice by Barnes. Also scoring were Ross Kennedy, Sherwood and Dylan Cochran.
Gulledge allowed two hits in the bottom of the inning, a single and a double. With one out and two runners in scoring position, however, he struck out the game’s final two batters.
Coach Bishop noted the Tigers did well at the plate against Manchester. “The velocity was not quite what we were used to seeing after playing Calhoun and obviously what we will be seeing next week. We had some quality at-bats all night long.”
He said the Tigers will take the two wins.
“We’re just looking forward to moving on,” he said. “We know that it’ll only get tougher with every step we take.”