COVINGTON, Ga. — Alcovy’s odds of slipping into the postseason slimmed down considerably Thursday as the Tigers dropped a pair of Region 3-AAAAAA games to Grovetown on their home diamond.
The doubleheader sweep knocked the Tigers to 8-18 on the year and 3-8 in league play with just one week remaining in the regular season. With four games left on the docket, the club sits on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in from the fifth spot in the standings.
In the first game of the day, Grovetown inflicted all of its damage before Alcovy could record six defensive outs.
The Warriors led off the contest with a walk and four straight hits — a pair of singles bookending a pair of doubles — to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Grovetown’s T.J. Holder lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to resume scoring in the second inning. Two at-bats later, following an error that kept the inning alive, senior Brock Borum belted a two-run blast over the right-field fence to give the Warriors a 6-0 advantage.
The Tigers would clamp down defensively for the next five innings, but the hole proved too deep to overcome.
“We did a good job battling back, but that’s the third game in a row where we got punched in the mouth early before we decided to respond,” Alcovy head coach Jimmy Hughes said. “Credit to our kids for battling back, and credit to Grovetown for punching us early. But at some point we’ve got to get past these first-inning jitters and get ourselves ready to play.”
Alcovy lit up the home side of the scoreboard later in the second inning on freshman C.J. Salmon’s RBI ground out. Freshman Reece Payne roped an RBI double down the left-field line in the fifth inning, followed shortly thereafter by a run-scoring single from senior Raquis Holmes.
Ultimately, however, Grovetown stymied the rally and earned the three-run victory.
The Tigers came out strong in Game 2.
Grovetown delivered the first blow in the second inning when a run scored on a fielder’s choice, but the Tigers struck right back in the home half of the frame. Junior Cameron Bonnett scored from third on a passed ball to tie the game. Salmon then laced a two-out RBI double to left field, giving the Tigers their first lead of the day at 2-1.
Grovetown’s Borum drove in the tying run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly, and the game would remain deadlocked at two for a considerable time. The Warriors finally broke through on Borum’s two-out RBI single in the fifth before tacking on runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to eke out the win.
“In baseball, sometimes you just get beat,” Hughes said. “And we didn’t help ourselves in a couple situations, but we had chances.”
Alcovy will host Heritage (6-14, 4-6) on Tuesday, April 20, before closing out the year with three games against Evans (11-12, 7-2) over Thursday and Friday. They no longer control their own destiny, instead needing teams ahead of them in the standings to lose to other opponents in addition to reeling off victories of their own.
While not yet mathematically eliminated from the postseason, Hughes said his message to his team was to focus only on what they can control and spend the final week of the season enjoying each moment.
“I said, ‘Look, you’re only guaranteed four games left. The pressure is off. Just got out there and have fun,’” he said. “Don’t put al this pressure on that you think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to win to get into the playoffs!’ Just play the game. I think what’s going to wind up happening is they’re going to find they’ll be more relaxed, more in-tune, and good things may happen next week.”