Braves fall to Berrien in state quarterfinals
May 10, 2018 by Leave a Comment
(Franklin, GA) — The Braves postseason dream run came to an end Wednesday afternoon following a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Berrien Rebels from Region 1-AA in South Georgia.
A huge crowd of fans for both teams packed into Alford Field for the Elite 8 showdown between fellow No. 2 seeds and Atlanta Braves stadium announcer Casey Motter was on hand to announce the games.
An Air Life helicopter delivered the game ball for the series and Brave middle school coach Heath Horn threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game.
In game one neither team was able to get on the board until the fourth inning when the Rebels pushed two across versus Brave No. 1 starter Tray Owens.
The Braves would bounce back with single runs in the fourth and the fifth, but that would be the only runs the home team would find all day after a scoring barrage in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Berrien took game one by a final score of 8-2 and closed it out with a 3-0 win in the nightcap. Caden Raines and Dale Thornhill each had two hits to lead the Brave offense in game one and Collin Wright added the only RBI of the day.
Pitching ruled in game two with both starters going the distance.
Senior Bryan Jones tossed six innings while allowing just one earned run and striking out six.
Jones scattered six hits and three walks with the Rebels (the home team in game two) scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth and then pushing across two more huge runs in the bottom of the sixth after a couple of Brave defensive miscues.
The Braves were able to bring the potential tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh before Berrien starter Brock Jewell was able to close the door after a season-ending double play.
The team was disappointed after the loss, but head coach Trent Bianco gave high praise to his team and especially his senior class in a season where the team exceeded expectations by making the Elite 8 for the third time in four years.
“When you start a season 1-8, it can be tough for high school kids to show up and go to work every day, but our kids wouldn’t allow anything else. They were fantastic and I know I speak for my entire coaching staff when I say I couldn’t be more proud of them especially these seniors,” said Bianco after the game.
“All we heard going into this season was how we lost so many guys and how we’d be taking a big step back, but this senior group put us on their back with leadership and brought us back to the Elite 8 with a shot at going to the Final Four.”
The Braves will graduate Bryan Jones, Davey Raines, A.J. Head, Trevor Garcia and Tyler Hitzeman. Bianco says each of those guys contributed something very special to the program and will be sorely missed.