The Long County baseball team opened its second 3 game series in region play on the road Monday night in Blackshear as they took on the Pierce County High School Bears. The Bears took an early lead and held on to win 7-6, moving their region mark to 4-0 on the year.
The Bears came out swinging from the start, putting together 4 straight singles to start the bottom of the first, and claiming a 2-0 lead before making an out. After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Pierce County used consecutive hits including a triple from Luke Echols to push 3 more across, finishing the 1st inning with a 5-0 lead. But the Tide would settle in and allow only one more unearned run over the next 5 innings.
The Tide got one back in the 2nd when a wild pitch plated Dwayne Rowe and would add another in the 3rd on a Rex Johnson groundout that scored Allen Crystal. Other than allowing those two runs, Bears starter Luke Echols was efficient all night, keeping the Tide off balance, never allowing the visitors to string much together.
The game remained at 6-2 Bears until the top of the 7th inning. With two outs and nobody on, Tide center fielder TJ Criswell reached on an error, and as is the case often in baseball, the door was opened for a Tide rally. The Tide were able to put together 4 straight hits of their own off Pierce reliever Brandon Pittman, including an RBI double from Luke Wells and a clutch 2 run single from Rex Johnson that tied the game 6-6.
It looked as though perhaps the Tide had turned the tables completely on their 7th inning misfortunes but were unable to push across one more run to take the lead.
In the end, the Bears would use 3 walks by Tide reliever Criswell and a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to walk it off, handing the Tide their third region loss, all decided in the 7th inning.
The loss moves the Blue Tide record to 9-5 and 1-3 in region play.
The Tide were led offensively by Luke Wells who went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, Rex Johnson who was 1-4 with 3 RBIs and Allen Crystal going 1-3 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Ethan Williams, Dwayne Rowe, Carlos Cruz, and Trevor Ray also added hits on the night.
A bright spot defensively for the Tide was Trevor Ray, who came in and pitched his first 2 innings of the season, allowing 2 infield hits and 1 unearned run, striking out 5 and walking none. Ethan Williams also provided the Blue Tide with 3 scoreless innings of 1 hit, 2 strikeout ball, keeping the Tide in the game.
The Blue Tide got back in the win column Wednesday at home, taking game 2 of the series from the Bears for a key region win. Senior pitcher Rex Johnson, as he has done all year, stepped up big for the Tide, throwing 5 strong innings allowing just 3 hits and 1 run, striking out 3 and walking 2.
As of press time, the Blue Tide will travel back to Blackshear Friday for a series deciding game 3 with the Bears, and a chance to turn early disappointment in region play into an opportunity to get back into the race.