When the Rome High baseball team dropped its first two region games of the season against Carrollton, coach Jim Tejcek’s outlook for the team didn’t change.
Now, 11 region games later, the Wolves are 10-3 in Region 7-5A play and are just where he wants them — guaranteed a spot in the Class 5A state playoffs and still within grasp of a region title.
So a 4-1 loss Friday night at Legion Field to first-place Kell wasn’t enough to dampen the high spirits of the head coach. Tejcek saw the game as good preparation for the challenges they will face in the upcoming playoffs.
“We kept preaching one game at a time,” Tejcek said. “I really believed we could get into this game 10-2. I told them if we can get to 10-2 and know we’re in the playoffs now let’s go win a region title. They’re a very mature and senior-laden team, and I liked the way we competed.
“We’re prepping ourselves for playoff baseball. We want to win this thing. It’s good to see our kids play this tough.”
Down 4-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Wolves were able to push a run across the plate to avoid the shutout. Jonathan Vigoa led off the inning with a double down the left field line. He then advanced to third on a sacrifice by Garrett Howell and was brought home on a single by Xavier Roberts-Donaldson.
Hayden Filetti took the loss for Rome and struck out three over 3 1/3 innings of work. Filetti had only given up four hits to Kell before the fourth inning where he began to struggle.
Filetti hit three batters before being subbed out with Grant Grodeman as the Wolves went down 3-0. With the bases loaded, the Wolves escaped without further damage when Kell’s Sam Blancato hit into a double play.
The loss was an oddity for Rome’s pitching staff which has been mostly successful all season and also includes Knox Kadum, Alden Astin and Tristan Tillery, all of whom have contributed to recent wins for the team.
Grodeman has turned into a reliable option for the Wolves in his senior year despite not seeing much playing time last year. The reliever hasn’t given up an earned run all season.
“Filetti has been really good for us,” Tejcek said. “He just had one tough inning. Grant has busted his butt all year to do what he’s doing. This kid throws strikes and he gets people out. His mentality on the mound is great. He knows his role and he’s one of my top relievers, and I know going into the playoffs he’s going to be great.”
The Wolves (14-7), who sit in fourth place in the region behind Kell, Carrollton and East Paulding, will face the Longhorns again Monday on the road. Tejcek said his team is eager for the rematch.
“They’re hungry,” he said. “They’re ready. I went out there to talk to them and they gave me that look. There’s a look in their eyes right now. Now we’re going to go there and we’re going to give them everything we’ve got.”
Following Monday’s game against Kell (22-4, 13-1), the Wolves will wrap up the season with two region contests against East Paulding on Wednesday and next Friday.