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Social Circle baseball sweeps Elbert County to move on in playoffs
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Luke Smith (5) pitched a complete seven innings in game one and recorded five strikeouts and allowed one run. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard
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SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Social Circle’s playoff games against Elbert County on Tuesday at Burks Field were vastly different. Nevertheless, the Redskins reigned victorious in each contest.

Game one was a pitcher’s duel to the finish in which the Redskins prevailed 2-1. A second-inning offensive explosion paved the way for Social Circle’s 10-6 game two victory. 

Head coach Kevin Dawkins relayed what he learned about his team across both outings. 

“They can approach and tackle any scenario,” Dawkins said. 

‘Skins’ bats come to life in game two

Tied at one run apiece heading into the top of the second inning, Social Circle got the offense cranked up with a series of singles. 

Brayden Allen singled a pitch up the middle that scored Luke Smith from third. Landon Harpe followed suit three pitches later with an RBI single to bring Barrett Bramlett in to score. A third straight single off of Caden Richardson’s bat made way for Landon Davis to cross home plate. 

Though Luke Cross grounded out in the next at-bat, Allen still scored to increase the Redskins’ lead.

Another run was added when Lucas Langley drew a walk with bases loaded allowing Harpe to score. 

With each productive at-bat, the Redskins’ advantage swelled 7-1 heading into the top of the third. 

Dawkins believed the players had better approaches at the plate and kept it simple, which is something he and his coaching staff have stressed all season. 

“That’s really our offensive philosophy. We don’t have a lot of power hitters. I don’t think we had any doubles tonight. It’s one of the things of having simple hands and trying to go right side, back side approach. And that’s just something that they did tonight,” Dawkins said. “They didn’t really hit the ball over anyone’s head — a lot of line drives and ground balls. That’s something that we’ve been trying to preach all year. It finally clicked at the right time.” 

Three more runs were scored by the Redskins across the remainder of the contest.

Elbert County had a surge in the final frame of Tuesday’s playoff doubleheader scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh. By that point, however, Social Circle’s lead was well intact and punched its ticket to the next round. 

Smith’s pitcher’s duel win sets up game one’s victory

Social Circle’s series with the Blue Devils would not have concluded with game two’s win had it not been for game one’s 2-1 triumph.

It was a pitcher’s duel early and often between both teams. 

Holding his own on the mound for Social Circle was Luke Smith. The reigning Region 5A-Division I Pitcher of the Year pitched a complete, seven-inning outing while only allowing one hit, one earned run and also recording five strikeouts. 

Dawkins mentioned how Smith dealt with an earlier season injury. Now, Dawkins feels Smith is hitting his stride.  

“It’s nice to have him back in full swing for the playoffs and for region. He just brings that stability,” Dawkins said. “You know, when he goes out there, he’s going to give you five, six, seven consistent, competitive innings and he’s gonna give you a chance to win, which is what he did tonight.”

Following Tuesday’s outcome, Smith gave kudos to the Redskins’ defense in the winning effort. He also shared how that boosted his own poise. 

“It gives me confidence just to attack the strike zone,” Smith said. “Handling the pitch count, you’re getting ahead early and they’re making contact. So, it’s a good thing.” 

Not only were just three combined runs scored, but they all came in the fourth inning. 

Elbert County struck first when Brady Dickerson scored off a Camden Bryant groundout. But it did not take long for Social Circle to strike back. 

Caden Richardson’s groundout allowed Landon Harpe to score and draw even 1-1. 

In addition to his contributions on the mound, Smith provided the decisive run.

Smith drilled a hard ground ball to center field, which resulted in an RBI single that scored Harpe again to place the Redskins ahead 2-1.

As a result of the two victories, Social Circle advances to the Sweet Sixteen of the Class A-Division I postseason.

Per the Georgia High School Association’s website, the Redskins (20-12) will travel to face-off against King’s Ridge next week. 

Dawkins recognized that the team features a lot of youth. He hopes that Tuesday’s wins will help the players realize what type of team they are. 

“Being able to win this first round against a really good Elbert County team shows them that they can hang with anybody no matter how young they are,” Dawkins said.

“Anytime you can get a first-round sweep against a team like that. That’s a big confidence boost and they know going into the week it doesn’t matter who they’re playing. Just be a team and take care of themselves, execute what they got to execute and, at the end of the day, however the chips fall, they fall.”