Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

May 13, 2013

Ailing Packers face big test at Parkview

MOULTRIE —  Ordinarily, Colquitt County baseball coach Tony Kirkland would have a lineup card filled out before his team got on the bus for a road game.

But when the Packers left Moultrie on Monday for the trip to Lilburn for a third-round state playoff series with Parkview, his lineup cards were blank.

With a number of his players suffering from strep throat and/or flu-like symptoms, Kirkland said he was going to wait until the bus pulls up at Hugh Buchanan Field today before putting names and positions on the cards.

He is hoping he will have all or most of his starters available. But as of 2 p.m. Monday, he wasn’t sure.

And if there was anytime he would like to have his team healthy and at full speed, it would be against Parkview.

The two-time defending champions are believed by many to be heading for a three-peat.

The Packers would be underdogs in any case. If several starters are unable to play or are playing with the effects of being sick, the odds would get longer.

Colquitt is expected to face the most accomplished and deepest pitching staff it has had to deal with this season.

Park-view’s Game 1 starter is expected to be Mac Marshall, who has a 2.08 ER and 63 strikeouts in 37 innings.

The scouting report indicates he throws three pitches for strikes.

Ditto for second-game starter Christian Vann, who has a 2.24 ERA.

And offensively, the Panthers are led by Josh Hart, who is hitting .473 with five home runs, 27 runs batted in, 19 stolen bases and has a plus arm in center field.

Kirkland remembers him from the Panthers visit to Ike Aultman Field in 2011.

Right fielder Ryan Blanton is hitting .348; catcher Hunter Thompson, .349. First baseman Jarrett Hood is hitting .376 and has hit eight home runs while driving in 35.

Micah Finley, another outfielders, it batting.429.

Speedy second baseman Daino Deas is a tough out.

“They do an outstanding job,” Kirkland said. “And they play extremely well in that ball park.

“We’ve got to gut it out and be able to perform. And a vast majority of our lineup is extremely gutty.”

The Packers have won six in a row and have ousted Harrison and Luella is doubleheader sweeps.

Aubrey McCarty is slated to start Game 1 on the mound. He is 6-4 with a 3.75 ERA and also leads the team in hitting with a .458 batting average. He has driven in 35 runs.

Junior third baseman Ross Goforth is hitting .430 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs. Blake Bennett has driven in 21 runs and Daren Kent, Mack Hathcock and Colin Kirkland have each driven in 14.

Jared May, who has shared time in left field with Garrett Pearce this season, is hitting .282, but that average climbs to .438 with runners in scoring position.

Junior Cole Bryant, who expected to start game is 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA. Bennett will likely be the first pitcher in the game if either McCarty or Bryant falters.

He was the winning pitcher in Game 2 against Luella and has a 3-1 record with a 1.62 ERA.

If a third game is required, Kirkland said he feels confident sending junior Clayton Brown to the mound.

Brown is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA and won Game 3 in the opening-round series against Westlake last year.

The games will be broadcast by WMTM 1300 AM and 105.1 FM.

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