By Derrick Mahone
Dutchtown pitcher Riley Presnell started strong for the Bulldogs on Wednesday.
He would weather a brief comeback attempt by visiting Stockbridge before finishing strong. The Bulldogs got what they expected out of the 14-year-old lefty in their 7-4 Region 4-AAAA win that extending a five-game winning streak.
Before giving way to relief pitcher Manuel Corrales, another freshman, in the sixth inning, Presnell had six strikeouts while giving up two runs on five hits. He only walked one batter.
Presnell, who threw 79 pitches, struckout four of the first six batters he faced.
"It was a game the hold team played well," Presnell said. "I felt good at the start, and it helped build up my confidence. I have a lot of confidence in my teammates. It was a gratifying win for us."
In two innings of relief, Corrales gave up two runs on two hits. Breedlove said he has Presnell on a 60-65 pitch count since he is so young. Presnell has a 3-1 record, and has beaten Stockbridge twice this season. His other victory was against Mount Zion with his only loss coming to state-ranked Alcovy.
"He should have had two more wins, but the bullpen lost it," Breedlove said.
Aside from giving up two runs in the fifth and seventh innings, Breedlove said he was pretty pleased with his team's effort. With the win, Dutchtown improved to 8-10 overall and 6-3 in the region while Stockbridge fell to 9-7 and 3-6.
"I wasn't happy about giving up those four late-inning runs," Breedlove said. "We still battled in the end after relaxing some in the game. The kids did a great job getting their momentum back."
Dutchtown is a half-game behind third place Jonesboro heading into the team's showdown Friday. Jonesboro won the earlier contest 3-1 at home.
Stockbridge coach Johnny Burch said his team waited too late to make a move in the game. Starter Mitchell Williams give up seven runs in four innings on six hits. He had four strikeouts, but a five-run second inning was too much for the Tigers to overcome.
"For the first three or four innings we were a flat baseball team," Burch said. "From the fourth inning on, we played well. We had a chance in the seventh if we could have gotten a seeing-eye double in there. I'm just proud that these guys battled back."
The Tigers still remain in the playoff hunt, but Burch is looking for his team to come out the gate playing better. He said the big difference in this season is seeing that his team is learning to react positive to adversity.
"When we had those bad couple innings, we could have easily quit," Burch said. "I'm hoping this is the turning point in the season. If we can spoil the day enough for enough teams, we can play ourselves into the playoffs."