Stratford edges FPD in regular-season finale

Article and photos courtesy of the Macon Telegraph –> Original Article Here

The Stratford Eagles were sitting in a precarious position heading into their final game of the regular season Thursday as they faced what may have been a must-win situation.

The Eagles are sitting in the 24th spot in the GHSA Class 1A private school rankings while their opponent, FPD was at 13th. Only the top 24 teams make it to the playoffs.

Stratford trailed by two runs heading into the seventh inning but scored two runs in the inning to tie the game. Pinch-runner Jaime O’Quinn scored from second on a wild pitch and an error on the catcher trying to nail him at third, and Stratford pulled of a 6-5 win.

Three who mattered

Clifton Olmstead: Olmstead pitched seven strong innings to keep Stratford in the game and came up with the big hit in the seventh with a two-run, two-out double to tie the game off FPD ace Gavin Bloodworth. Olmstead struck out six batters and gave up only six hits but could not pitch around four errors, including two costly errors in FPD’s three-run thir. Olmstead also drove in four runs.

Charlie Giles: The Stratford sophomore had two hits, including a leadoff single to start off the eighth. His pinch-runner, O’Quinn, scored the winning run.

Bloodworth: Bloodworth was touched for three runs in the first but settled down and held Stratford scoreless during the next five innings. He could not quite overcome four FPD errors, and he drove in three runs.

Observation

Fighting through it: Bloodworth appeared to suffer a pulled hamstring in the fifth while running down the first-base line on a groundout. But after limping off the field, he returned to the mound and gave FPD two more scoreless innings.

They said it

Stratford head coach Tyler Brown on his team’s performance: “It was just a huge win for us, not only in the power rankings, but it also gave us third place in our half of the region. We struggled at times defensively, but we just continued to battle at the plate against a very good pitcher.

Brown on his pitching: “Clifton battles every game he is on the mound and he kept us in the game, and then just came up with the biggest hit of the year for us. We feel very good about our pitching and Sam Clark came in and gave us a great inning. It was just a huge win for this program heading into the playoffs.”

Olmstead on his performance on the mound: “I felt great at the beginning of the game, and it was good to get an early lead, but after that I really didn’t have great stuff, and I just had to battle.”

Olmstead on his hit in the seventh: “I was hoping it would get to me and the guys in front of me did a great job. I was looking for a good pitch to hit, and I got it. It was probably the biggest situation I have ever been in in a high school baseball game, and I was glad I was able to come through.”

FPD head coach Denny Bryant on the loss: “It was definitely frustrating for us to lose that game, but we didn’t quite make enough plays when we had to. I don’t really have to tell these kids too much because you can look on their faces and know that they know we have to do a better job. I just told them we still have a lot of baseball to play.”

What’s next?

Stratford (11-12, 4-4 Region 7-1A) will play Monday against either GMC or Washington Wilkes while FPD (12-11, 2-6) will play Monday against Aquinas.

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