Blake Bennett must like those 10th-inning, pressure situations.
Last week, the Packers junior center fielder stroked a two-run single in the bottom of the 10th to defeat Valdosta 15-14.
On Tuesday, Bennett laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that Tift County pitcher Cole Janousek threw into right field allowing Garrett Pearce to score from second base to give the Packers a 6-5 victory over the Blue Devils at Ike Aultman Field.
The victory pushes the Packers record to 14-6 overall and 8-2 in Region 1-AAAAA.
It also clinches a first-round state playoff series for the Packers, who can now finish no worse than second in the final region standings.
The Packers, who will travel to Tallahassee this afternoon to play Lincoln High, still have two region games remaining: at home against Coffee next Tuesday and at Lowndes on Friday, April 27.
The Packers managed just one hit against Janousek, who took over from Tift County starter Nick Utley with one out in the second inning.
After Aubrey McCarty singled to chase Utley, the Packers did not get another hit until Dykes singled in the 10th.
McCarty opened the inning by reaching on an infield error and went to second on the Dykes hit. Pearce went into run and scored when Bennett bunted on the first pitch. Janousek’s wild throw handed him a tough loss after he went 7 2/3 innings and gave up just the one hit and two unearned runs.
“He’s a great competitor,” Packers coach Tony Kirkland said of Janousek, who is the son of Abraham Baldwin College baseball coach Steve Janousek. “I’m glad we don’t have to face him again.”
The Blue Devils fall to 10-12 overall and are now 5-5 in the region.
Tift jumped on McCarty, the Packers starter, for four runs on five hits in the top of the first inning.
But in what Colquitt County coach Tony Kirkland said was the key to the game, the Packers countered with three in the bottom of the inning. Colquitt tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the second on a Dykes ground out that scored Mack Hathcock.
Tift regained the lead in the top of the third when Zack Bullard led off with a double, moved to second on a passed ball and scored a sacrifice fly by Blake Suggs.
But that was all Tift would get. McCarty pitched a scoreless fourth and Dykes took over in the fifth and held Tift County scoreless the rest of the way, striking out nine over the final six innings. The Packers had just five hits, singles by Dykes, McCarty, Hathcock, Colin Kirkland and Matt Creech.