Valiants' run ends in championship series

May 23—MACON — The Valwood Valiants were not the favorites entering the GIAA Class AAA baseball tournament.

They began the postseason as the No. 8 of 12 teams competing for a chance at the crown. Less than three weeks later, against all odds, Valwood was playing for a title at Luther Williams Field in Macon.

Valwood finishes 2024 with an 18-14 record. They were 12-10 when they started it. Along the way, they knocked off No. 1 and No. 4, both in hostile territory.

The team that won, region rival Terrell Academy, earned the crown with only three losses against them, one of those against Valwood.

Terrell proved tough in the championship series.

Valwood's troubles started on the first batter, who laid down a perfect bunt to reach. A hit up the middle put two runners on, then a three-run blast by Dozier Swain to left made for an immediate 3-0 Terrell lead.

Terrell doubled in run No. 4. One batter later, it was 5-0 with no outs and Valwood went to the bullpen.

The Valiants nearly escaped the frame with the same score, but the scoring wheels began turning again with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. Swain picked up his second hit of the first, a two-run single to make it 8-0.

Triston White got Valwood going in the top of the fourth, beating out a dribbler to third. Dalton Smith joined him on the bases with a line drive before Jack Drew filled the sacks with another hit.

Conner Hutto drew a walk to bring in White for the first Valiants run. Hatfield followed with a liner over short to make it 8-2 and keep the bags full.

Valwood was cut down at the plate on a fielder's choice, but Chase Helfer delivered two on a hit up the middle and the lead was halved to 8-4.

Unfortunately, the momentum did not take. The Eagles tacked on six more in the bottom half of the inning.

Daylor Drawdy drove in the first two with a single. Quindon Wright made it 11-4, then Kade Muliford had two RBIs on a hit to the left field wall. One last single put the game into run rule territory and the Eagles added one more in the fourth.

Down one game, the Valiants almost extended the series to a third contest.

Rain pushed game two back to Monday.

The Valiants were in a hole early, three runs by Terrell in the second frame, then four more over the third and fourth.

Valwood got on the board in the fifth. An error and a walk put Maddox Coile and David Griffin on base, Coile going to third on a wild pitch, according to official stats on GameChanger.

Dywan Powell hit a a sacrifice fly for the first Valwood tally, then Helfer forced another error for Griffin to come around.

A sixth inning rally got Terrell nervous.

White, Hatfield and Coile filled the bases with no outs. The Eagles got one down without damage, but Dustin Gibbs came through with a single, plating White.

Smith doubled, clearing all runners and suddenly it was 7-6 with one down and the tying run in scoring position. The Eagles hunkered down there, a strikeout and pop fly to preserve the lead.

Two insurance runs by Terrell Academy in the seventh inning were enough to hang on.

Official team stats on GameChanger credit Smith with three RBIs and Drew with two hits in the second game.

Jake Goff allowed no earned runs over four innings of relief.