It wasn’t even close on Monday night, as the Stephens County Indians (20-8; 6-7) took sole possession of the fourth spot in Region 8-AAAA with a 15-3 win over St. Pius (16-12; 5-8).
The win puts the Indians just one shy of locking up a state playoff spot. As it was drawn up, the winner of this three-game set between Stephens and the Golden Lions would determine the final playoff spot. St. Pius now faces the unenviable task of trying to stay alive with two games left (Wednesday and Friday).
Stephens County struck first in the home half of the opening frame, but the Golden Lions responded with a run of their own in the second to tie it up. The Indians’ offense came to life with a five-run outburst in the bottom half, and by the end of the seven-run third inning, it was 13-3 Stephens County. It added two more in the fourth, ending the game early with the run rule in affect after shutting down St. Pius in the fifth.
For the Indians, who were once 17-1 overall and the #2-ranked team in the state, this season has been frustrating once region play began. It started with the Indians winning in dramatic fashion in a three-game sweep of Oconee County, two which ended in walk-off hits.
The struggle was on from there. Jefferson’s pitching staff won three straight pitcher’s duels (2-1, 1-0, 2-1) to sweep the Indians. Stephens County then dropped a series opener to Madison County, but rebounded with two straight wins over Madison to claim the series.
North Oconee then swept through the Indians last week, leading up to this decisive series with St. Pius.