Diamond Pack rebounds to shut out Columbus 3-0

Feb. 16—COLUMBUS — The Colquitt County baseball team knows coach Brandon Brock likes to hear "Dixieland Delight" after his team wins.

The 3-0 road shutout of Columbus on Friday was particularly satisfying for the Packers and the players had the volume amped up while playing their coach's favorite tune on the bus ride back to the hotel.

Columbus perennially has one of the top baseball programs in the state and is coming off a 25-win 2023 season.

The Packers were 12-17 last spring and did not play particularly well in a 5-0 season-opening loss at home to Thomas County Central on Wednesday.

But Gabe Eubanks and Logan Plymel allowed just two singles and a pair of walks and the offense provided several timely hits in a win that came at just the right time for the Packers.

"It was unbelievable," said Brock, now in his third season as the team's coach. "It was just like it was supposed to be. It was a great night.

"I think we are headed in the right direction."

And, on a personal note, Brock added, "I'd never beaten Columbus as a head coach."

The Blue Devils sent out a couple of hard-throwing left-handers with good breaking balls in sophomore starter Michael Nottleman, who went the first five innings, and senior reliever Jack Peak, who threw the last two.

"We had our way with them," Brock said.

But unlike what transpired in the loss to the Yellow Jackets two days earlier, the Packers took advantage of their scoring opportunities in Columbus.

In the top of the second, Brady DeRosso coaxed a one-out walk, stole second and moved to third on an infield out.

Tyson Hobby's grounder sent DeRosso scampering home for the game's first run.

In the fourth inning, Colquitt made it 2-0 when Jaxon Chambers singled to center, moved to third on a single to right by Hobby and scored on Jake Walker's sacrifice fly.

In the top of the seventh, the Packers scored the final run of the game when Walker led off with a single and Davis Lightsey was sent in to run for him and stole second.

Hayden Hembree and Mason Moore struck out, but Cam Cook came through with a run-scoring single to right.

The Packers had six hits, all singles by Moore, Cook, Chambers, Hobby, Walker and Bryce Roberts.

Eubanks, a junior left-hander, was in total control in his five innings on the mound.

He gave up two singles, one walk and and hit a batter, but struck out six.

"Eubanks just destroyed them," Brock said. "Just annihilated them."

Plymel, who pitched a scoreless inning-and-a-third against Thomas County Central, retired six of the seven batters he faced over the final two innings on Friday.

He issued a two-out walk in the sixth, then mowed down the next four Blue Devils, striking out the final three in the bottom of the seventh.

"Both of those guys were through the roof," Brock said of Eubanks and Plymel, the big sophomore.

The Packers made just one error, but it was not costly as the two they committed against the Yellow Jackets.

Brock chuckled after the game, musing, "We lose a game in which we get nine hits, then we win one with six hits.

"But it was a huge win for Packer baseball."

The Packers will travel to Hamilton on Saturday for a doubleheader against Region 3-5A Harris County, which went 21-12 last year.

The first game will start at 11 a.m. and the nightcap is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

The Tigers lost their opener to Columbus last Monday 5-1 and played at Carrollton on Friday.

The Packers will play four more games next week, starting with a 6 p.m. Tuesday game at Coffee and then home games at 6 p.m.Wednesday against Cairo, 6:30 p.m. Friday against Creekside High of St. Johns, Fla., and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, against St. John Neumann of Naples, Fla.

The Friday and Saturday games are part of the annual Georgia/Florida Challenge.