County in Control: Bulldogs take Game 1 of first round over McLaurin, 10-0

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

From start to finish, it was all Franklin County High School in its first game against McLaurin High School in a best-of-three playoff matchup, as the Bulldogs beat the Tigers, 10-0 in five innings Friday night.

The Bulldogs’ starting pitcher Braden Whitehead pitched all five innings, only allowing three hits and striking out four batters, while five-out-of-nine of Franklin County’s hits were doubles. Although it seemed like a dominant performance by the Bulldogs on paper, coach Josh Thibodeaux doesn’t see it that way.

“Dominant on the scoreboard, alright,” Thibodeaux said. “(McLaurin) made some errors in the field that allowed us to extend some innings and we had clutch hits — two out hits. That’s huge in baseball. Anytime you can put up 10 runs in five innings, that feels pretty good.”

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With the victory, Franklin County is one win away from moving on to the next round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State playoffs.

Although winning the first game might relieve some stress that was built up in the Bulldogs, Thibodeaux knows his team needs to keep its focus when Franklin County heads to McLaurin today for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

“We can’t relax,” Thibodeaux. “There is a Game 2 at (McLaurin’s) place. We got to be focused like we were tonight. We just have to show up and play.

“We have to be mentally focused at all times. It doesn’t matter if it’s Game 1, 2 or 3.”

While Thibodeaux believes the Bulldogs still need to be at the top of their A-Game, he does find it valuable to win the first game of a series.

“It’s huge,” Thibodeaux said. “You set the tone for the series.

“It does take a little stress off because you know we have one in the bag. But these three game series, you have to two (wins to move on).”

Heading into Game 2, Thibodeaux does know his team needs to clean up some areas of its game.

Thibodeaux wants his pitchers to get ahead in the pitch count and be able to get some secondary pitches. Also, he wants the Bulldogs to clean up their base running. But more importantly, Thibodeaux wants his team to continue its hot batting.

“It has come along the past two weeks,” Thibodeaux said. “It has been big for us. In the playoffs, as long as you get hot, you have a chance.

“That is what we push for. Now is the time you play the best you can play.”

However, Thibodeaux said he feels his team will come out out with same intensity it showed Friday due to it being playoff time.

“This time of the year, they understand you win or you go home,” Thibodeaux said. “So the mental focus picks up a little bit more. This time of the year and the ones that do stay focus, make a run for the championship.”