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Social Circle's baseball season concludes with series loss to King's Ridge in second round
Landon Harpe 2024
Redskins senior Landon Harper tags out a King's Ridge baserunner attempting to steal second base in game two. - photo by Garrett Pitts

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Social Circle baseball season concluded on Tuesday after a series loss to the King’s Ridge Christian Tigers in the second round of the Class A-Division I playoffs.

Falling 10-0 in the opening game of the series, the Redskins battled back with a strong pitching performance to win the second game 4-2. However, the Tigers’ bats woke back up in game three, which resulted in a 11-0 win over Social Circle to end the series.

Game One

In the first game of the series, the pitchers dominated the first few innings.

Social Circle’s Luke Smith and the Tigers’ Luke Hill both pitched three no-hit innings to open the game.

Luke Smith 2024
Smith pitched game one for the Redskins in the second round of the Class A-Division I playoffs. - photo by Garrett Pitts

However, King’s Ridge got to Smith in the bottom of the fourth.

After a single and a walk put the first two batters on base, a single from Taylor Markakis gave King’s Ridge its first run of the day.

Before the inning ended, the Tigers scored three more runs on an error, passed ball and a sacrifice fly.

When the Tigers went back up to the plate in the next inning, they carried the momentum with them.

King’s Ridge posted six runs in the bottom of the fifth.

With the bases loaded, Ethan Babcock hit a run-scoring infield single to end the game 10-0 via run-rule to put King’s Ridge ahead in the series opener.

Hill pitched a no-hitter against the Redskins through five innings to earn the win.

Game Two

With elimination on the line, Social Circle’s Caden Richardson battled through the King’s Ridge lineup and a pesky student section to win and force a game three.

Richardson pitched the entirety of the Redskins’ 4-2 win. 

After getting no-hit in game one, the Redskins jumped out to an early lead in game two.

Landon Davis reached on an infield error, then Richardson brought him in to score on an RBI double in the first inning. In the next at-bat, Luke Cross laced a double of his own into right field to score another run and give Social Circle a 2-0 advantage.

King’s Ridge answered back in the third frame.

After an error on a pickoff attempt allowed a Tigers’ baserunner to move from first to third, Hill drove him in on an RBI single.

Two batters later, a single from Markakis scored King’s Ridge’s second run to tie the game 2-2.

In the fourth inning, Jake Blankenship put the Redskins ahead.

With two runners on, Blankenship singled into right field to score Lucas Langley from second base.

In the fifth, Social Circle added insurance when Langley doubled in Landon Harpe to extend the lead to 4-2.

With a two-run lead, Richardson found himself in a jam in the top of the sixth.

Following the first two batters preaching base on singles, Richardson got the first two outs on a groundout and a flyout.

With the Tigers’ student section attempting to disrupt him on the mound, Richardson struck out Hudson Phillips to escape the jam.

In the final frame, King’s Ridge’s student section began to do the same after the Tiger’s leadoff hitter reached base on a single.

However, Richardson collected the final three outs. Immediately after the strikeout, Richardson blew the Tiger’s student section a kiss as he walked off the mound of his game two victory.

Caden Richardson
Richardson blows the King's Ridge student section a kiss after getting the final out of the Redskins' game two win on Monday. - photo by Garrett Pitts

Redskins head coach Kevin Dawkins discussed what Richardson’s pitching has meant to the team and how the junior stepped into a starting role in 2024.

“Ever since he was a freshman — [where] he was closing out the game in the Elite Eight to send us to the Final Four for the second time in school history,” Richardson said. “He made a transition this year into more of a starting role. He went from being  closer to a starter. His competitive nature, he goes up there and takes the mound everyday with the confidence that he has the best stuff. I think that plays well for him. The emotion that he brings every game — the kids feed off that.”

Game Three

With elimination on the line for both teams, King’s Ridge had a repeat performance from game one as they won 11-0 via mercy rule.

In the opening frame, the Tigers got to Redskins’ starter Gehrig Knapp.

The Tigers ripped off seven runs in the opening frame as they collected eight hits and a walk in the opening inning.

Social Circle collected hits in three seperate innings, but was unable to piece them together for runs.

A pair of two-run hits in the third and fourth innings extended King’s Ridge’s lead to 11-0, which led to the game being called after the top of the fifth inning.

The loss ended Social Circle’s season with a 21-14 record and a trip to the second round of the Class A-Division I playoffs. The Redskins 2024 campaign served as their third consecutive 20-win season.

In Region 5A-Division I play, the Redskins finished in second place with a 6-3 record.

Following a 2023 season that saw the Redskins lose 10 seniors, the team will have to endure the loss of four seniors as they transition to 2025.

Nevertheless, Dawkins spoke about the impact of his four veterans on the roster — Smith, Harpe, Davis and Nolan Mitchell.

“They were a part of three straight 20-win seasons,” Dawkins said. “I just told them how proud I was of them. We graduated 10 seniors last year, we had to replace seven starters in a season. Without those four seniors showing up everyday and leading these young guys by example and showing them what it means to be a Social Circle baseball player then I don’t think any of this would have been possible.”

As the team moves into the offseason, Dawkins shared what development he wanted to see from his returning players over the offseason.

“Growing, from a physical standpoint,” Dawkins said. “We have eight or nine freshmen in the program, and they look like freshmen. We just want those freshmen and sophomores to get bigger and stronger. [Also] go off and play in their summer leagues and get a lot of at-bats and experience and understand that when we get back there next year and we start back up in January, it’s their turn now.