Pitching has always been an important factor in Region 2 AA Baseball. However, in the 2019 season quality pitching should be a key factor in deciding the top four teams which move on to the post season. The reason is more total region games played in increments of three each week. In the past two seasons the schedule had two region teams playing each other home and away during each week of the region schedule for a total of 14 region games. This season there will be a total of 18 region games and each week two teams will square off against each other three times, usually on a Monday, Thursday and Friday.
“It is a decision we came to and voted on in region and I was one who voted for it,” said Bulldog head coach Derek James. “I was not a big fan of only 12 games deciding who went to the payoffs (12 games because Benedictine left the region and moved up to AAA). Pitching is going to come down to depth. Not only are teams going to need their top three arms, but when you add three region ball games plus the pitch count you are going to need kids to step up. There are going to be days where- I don’t care who the team is- they are going to feel like they like they have run out of pitching and I don’t care who is on the mound you are going to have to play solid defense behind them to give you a chance.”
The Bulldogs most experienced returning pitcher is senior Brock Harrison. He was Toombs County’s Pitcher of the Year in 2018 after throwing 37 ⅓ innings and allowing 27 hits and 19 earned runs for a 3.57 ERA. He struck out 28 batters and walked 25. He struck out a season-high seven batters in 6 ⅓ innings at Bryan County.
“I am just trying to work on mechanics and clean everything up so it is all good when it is game time,” Harrison said. “The goal is to get three pitches in- fastball, curveball and changeup. The ultimate goal is to throw strikes.”
Cole Graham is another Bulldog senior who will take the mound in 2019. Cole’s primary job is to catch and work with the staff. The right-hander pitched 28 ⅓ innings in 2018 and allowed 37 hits and 21 earned runs (5.19 ERA). His highlights included a five-inning stint against Benedictine in which he threw five innings and allowed only three hits and one earned run. At Bacon County- in four innings- he yielded four hits allowed and one earned run. He struck out four with no walks.
Another senior righty is Dalton Lynn. He threw 17 ⅓ innings last season and allowed 20 hits and 13 earned runs (5.25 ERA) with 19 strikeouts and 10 walks. In 5-of-his-9 appearances Dalton did not allow an earned run.
“Location is my main point. I don’t focus much on velocity by putting the ball where it needs to be put and controlling ground balls and pop flies to get the team outs,” Lynn said.
Chase Musselman is one of the young Bulldog arms who should pitch for the varsity in his sophomore season. He won the Best Junior Varsity Pitcher Award at the Baseball Banquet after his freshman season. Alex Gordy is another sophomore who pitched for the Bulldogs during their Monday practice.