The Long County High School baseball team picked up its first win of the year Monday by defeating New Hampstead, 11-1, in five innings in Ludowici.
The Blue Tide scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to enact the mercy rule and close out the game early. Pitcher Ryan McGowan picked up the win, striking out four and allowing just one hit in four scoreless innings.
It was a strong start for a team looking to improve on last season’s 13-13 overall record in 2014, which included an 8-10 mark in Region 2-AA.
The Tide last year missed making the state playoffs by one game. Long County head coach Tyler Rogers said that overcoming this shortfall is the team’s biggest goal in 2015.
“We have one major goal, and that is to be playing on May 1 when the state tournament starts,” Rogers said. “Every day we play or practice is a stepping stone to that one goal … if we can get better every day, we will get there.”
Rogers said that this year’s Tide don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but that the players are talented and will work hard. He expects senior leadership from McGowan, who also plays third base, and shortstop/pitcher Clay Strickland.
“Our biggest strength this year is the team morale,” Rogers said. “We have a great group that enjoys being around each other and playing baseball. That will take us a long way.”
Last season, pitching wasn’t a problem for the Blue Tide, but putting up runs was. Nowhere was this more painfully evident then down the stretch, when they were outscored, 20-5, in their last four region losses. If the Tide are going to be successful in 2015, they will need to get more offensive production.
If Monday’s offensive output is any indication as to how this season will go for Long County, then things are already looking good for the Ludowici team.
The Blue Tide were scheduled to play Tattnall County on Tuesday in Reidsville. Results were unavailable at press time.
On Thursday, Long County will be back home to play Bradwell Institute. The Blue Tide holds a series lead of 8-3 over the Tigers, according to GeorgiaPrepCountry.com. The game starts at 5:55 p.m. in Ludowici.