TRENTON, Ga. - Chip Henderson learned a little something about his baseball team Tuesday, an intangible that might prove to be a key to any long postseason run.
Henderson's Calhoun Yellow Jackets were stuck on a bus for three-plus hours Tuesday because of an overturned RV on Interstate 75 in Gordon County, arriving at Dade County High for a crucial Region 7B-AA game two hours behind schedule. After a long Monday night following a game at Georgia Tech University, the road-weary Jackets surprised their coach with a 16-1 crushing of the Wolverines.
"We were on that bus a long time, and as a coach you always worry how a team will respond to adversity like that," Henderson said. "To their credit, they came out really loose and hit the ball. We had a good win Monday (11-6 over Class AAAAA's Alpharetta) and it kind of carried over to today."
The win improved Calhoun to 14-5 overall and a perfect 7-0 in subregion play. More importantly, it gives the Jackets a three-game lead over Dade (14-5, 5-3) and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe for the subregion's top seed with four games to play. Region 7-AA will hold a tournament to decide its four playoff seeds, with the champion in each subregion playing each other in a best-of-three series to determine the champion.
Dade will host LFO Friday in a game likely to determine the subregion's No. 2 seed.
"I don't think it clinches it for us, but the magic number I believe is now one," Henderson said. "This was big because it gives us a clearer picture of what's ahead of us."
The Jackets wasted little time shaking their bus lag, scoring three in the first inning and four more in the second. The big hits were Austin Norrell's RBI double in the first and Josh Barnes' two-run homer in the second.
The game got out hand in the third when Calhoun sent 13 batters to the plate, with nine scoring on eight hits and three Dade errors. Josh Shubert, Landon Curtis and Alex Kirby had RBI hits and Tyler King had a two-run single in the huge inning. Kirby had three of the team's 14 hits, with Shubert (also the winning pitcher), Cory Greeson and Austin Norrell adding two each.
"For some reason, when we got here we were ready to hit," said Kirby, better known as the football team's star linebacker. "When we started I thought it was going to be a long game, but Josh got in a groove and we just started hitting. Right now, everybody is seeing the ball well and I think we're peaking at the right time."