On Monday, Long County defeated Bradwell Institute 10-9 in Ludowici, but the win didn’t come easily. The teams slugged it out for nine innings.
Early on, the game looked like it might end quickly. The Tigers scored six runs in the top of the second inning to go up 6-1. However, the Tide’s Bryan Wingate hit a homerun and Richard "Rat" Johnson doubled. The Tide put up seven more runs in the fourth and fifth innings and Long County led 8-6 at the end of five.
The two teams went back and forth, and the Tigers put up two runs in the seventh to tie it up at 8. The tie remained until the top of the ninth, when things got exciting.
In the top of the ninth, Johnson walked Bradwell’s first batter, Josh Rivers. The next two Tiger batters struck out, but Rivers stole bases with each batter. He was at third when Tiger Mitch Rogers came to the plate. Johnson threw a pitch and Rivers ran for home. The Tide catcher mishandled the ball and Rivers scored, putting the Tigers up 9-8 going into the bottom of the ninth.
In the second half of the inning, Long County's Brandon Hope batted first and nailed a double to put the tying run in scoring position. Johnson got a single and Hope moved to third. Tommy Freeman popped the ball to center and was fielded for the first out. The Tide's Wingate came to bat and Tiger coach Rhett Hellgren instructed his pitcher to walk the senior, loading the bases. Next, catcher Brandon McManus walked and sent Hope in for the tying run. Trent Wells batted next for the Tide and nailed an outside pitch to center field, sending in the winning run.
In the game, the Tigers had six hits and five errors. The Blue Tide had 10 hits and three errors.
"We have to play a whole game. We play a whole game and those late innings never even happen. We also have to have better baseball sense and not make as many mistakes," Hellgren said.Though the coach wasn’t pleased with the loss, he told his team, "You played a heck of a game and you didn’t quit. Keep your head up. We play another good team tomorrow."
Blue Tide coach Brian Thomas was happy with his team’s performance, but said the squad made a few mental mistakes.
"It was real exciting game and I’m glad we got the win, but we did make a few too many mental errors," he said. "We have to work on that and try to eliminate them."
Thomas commented on the play of a few of his players. "I was glad to see Trent (Wells) get the hit for the win. That was big. Also, David Shuman pitched two scoreless innings for us, and Rat (Richard Johnson) pitched well, closing out the game and picking up the win."
Both the Tigers and the Blue Tide played yesterday. Bradwell faced Glynn Academy and Long took on Appling County, but results from those games were not available at press time.
Today, the Tigers head to Kingsland to face Camden County High School. The Wildcats bring a 2-1 overall record into the game, and the Tigers are 2-2 (prior to the Glynn Academy game). Today’s match is the first Region 3-AAAAA game for the rivals. Game-time is 6 p.m.
The Blue Tide face Jeff Davis High School on Friday. The Yellow Jackets are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in their region. The Tide are 3-4 overall and 0-2 in the region. The 2-AA showdown is in Hazlehurst at 6 p.m.