Tigers at home for playoffs
School makes debut with key advantage

COVINGTON - Alcovy not only made it to the baseball playoffs for the first time in the school's three-year history; the Tigers are also hosting.

The Tigers take on Harlem today in a doubleheader with the first pitch at 4 p.m.

If Alcovy is to use the home field to its advantage, the Tigers will need to avoid leaving runners on base.

"We just have to do a better job hitting with runners in scoring position," first-year Alcovy head coach Casey Bates said. "I've been preaching it the last three weeks. We've got to find a way to get them in. We get on base by getting base hits, and then that's where we stop."

However, getting hits may be easier said than done against Bulldogs pitcher Patrick Gamblin.

Gamblin will be playing next year at Wofford College.

"They've got a left-handed pitcher that's one of the best in the state," Bates said. "He throws in the mid- to upper 80s. But, we saw the kid from Griffin and the kid from South Gwinnett, and we did OK with them.

"We can't worry about what the other team is going to do. We have to worry about what we're going to do. Whether it's Tom Glavine on the mound or some kid we have no idea who he is, we have to do our job."

Since the Tigers lack power pitchers, they will have to rely on their defense to keep Harlem from out scoring them.

The one thing the defense has to do is keep the ball in front of them and make the routine plays.

In high school baseball, according to Bates, the team that wins is the one that walks the fewest batters and commits the fewest errors.

"That's the name of the game in high school. Make the other team beat you, don't help them out," he said.

Keeping the pitches down and avoiding the long ball is even more important on Alcovy's field.

"The key for us in our little-bitty park is to make sure our pitchers throw strikes and our defense makes the routine plays," he said. "We can't give them two or three bases because we make errors, then they hit a home run. All of a sudden it's three runs instead of one run.

"If our pitchers throw strikes and make them hit the ball and they do that, they beat us. If we walk them then they hit us, then we help them out."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.