The Long County Blue Tide could not pull out the region series win against the Pierce County Bears, but they capped off the exciting series on Friday, April 2 with a home win. After dropping the first two games 2-1 and 14-10, the Tide pulled out a walk-off 6-5 win in extra innings.
The Bears got on the board early and it looked like their momentum would carry over into the third game as they looked to stay undefeated in the region. They got a lead-off double, which scored two batters later as they led 1-0 going into the bottom of the inning.
The Tide answered with a leadoff single from TJ Criswell, who was scored by Dwayne Rowe’s double. The score stood at 1-1 going into the second inning.
Pitcher Jacob Struble dominated the second inning, sitting down all three Bears batters with strikeouts. In the bottom half of the inning, Ethan Wells got on base with a walk and Trevor Ray moved him up with a single.
Daniel Edwards came up to the plate and smacked a double to score Wells and make the score 2-1 in favor of the Blue Tide. Their lead, however, did not last long.
The Bears came up to bat and got two runners on with back-to-back hits and, after a strikeout, loaded the bases on a walk. That is where they took over and eventually added four runs on the board to take the 5-2 lead.
Going into fifth inning, the Tide trailed 5-2 as they came up to bat. Edwards walked, Cole Moss and Criswell both reached on errors as Edwards scored.
Rowe came up to the plate and smacked a single to score both Moss and Criswell to tie the game at five. The Bears pulled off an out on fielder’s choice, but the Tide were once again able to load the bases as Trevor Ray came up to the plate.
With the game tied, two outs, and the bases loaded, the Tide could not put any more runs across home plate.
After allowing just one hit in the sixth, the Tide took to the plate again as Edwards and Moss both got on base with singles as the Tide had two on with no outs.
Both Criswell and Rowe went down, but Struble got hit by a pitch as the Tide loaded the bases for the second straight inning. They could not take advantage of the early momentum at the plate as the score remained tied at five.
Criswell sat down two Pierce batters on strikeouts as the Tide had a chance to pull off the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Ray walked and Edwards singled to finish the night perfect from the plate, but the Tide could not pull out the win as the game went into extra innings.
Criswell again struck out two Bears as the game remained at 5-5. Criswell singled and stole second as Struble was at the plate. With two outs, however, the Tide could not bring home the winning run.
The Bears got just one hit in the ninth as the Tide played some good defense to go into the bottom of the inning. Joseph Cammack singled to open the half of the inning and Ray walked to get two runners on with just one out.
Junior Blake Holland came up to the plate, pinch hitting for Edwards. He cracked a single into left field as Cammack crossed home plate for the 6-5 win.
Rowe finished 2-5 from the plate with three RBIs. Edwards was 3-3 with one RBI. Criswell got the win on the mound, allowing two hits and no runs with four strikeouts in five innings of work. Despite giving up five runs, Struble had five strikeouts in four innings.
The Tide move to 8-8 and 1-2 in the region. With arguably their biggest threat out of the way, the Tide have a much clearer path to at least the second seed in Region 1-AAA in the state playoffs.
They have another three-game series next week against Tattnall County as they travel to Reidsville on Tuesday, April 6 and Friday, April 9 and host the Warriors on Thursday, April 8.