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Blue tide loses to Pirates, 5-4
Catcher Blake Strickland hits a double in the game against Appling County. - photo by Mike Riddle / Coastal Courier
LUDOWICI — Fans from both Long and Appling counties got one of those “both teams deserve to win” games Friday.
It was a night of outstanding plays, smart coaching and never-quit attitudes by a bunch of young men from two different high schools.  
Unfortunately for Long County, one team did have to lose, and it was them, 5-4.
Long pitcher Ryan Simmons started for the Blue Tide, striking out one in the first inning, and the rest of his team disposed of other two.
When Long got to the plate, they could only muster one hit off Pirate pitcher Justin Crosby, but it was a solid double by catcher Blake Strickland.
In the second the Pirates managed two hits, and scored one run.
In the bottom of the inning, no. 11 Tyler Hall was the only Long player to get a hit, a grounder to left field.
In the third inning, Simmons got another strike out, and balls caught by Stetson Strickland and Richard Johnson, sent the Pirates back to the dugout.
When the Blue boys came back to the plate, no. 15 Shane White started the inning with a solid line drive toward center field.  Blake Strickland then was walked. With first and second occupied,  Bryan Wingate nailed a double, sending White home and leaving the Tide with two men in scoring position and no outs.  Stetson Strickland then struck out. The next batter, Ryan Simmons, walked, filling the bases with only one out.
Pirate head coach Jeremy Smith then pulled Crosby for right-hander Josh Leggett.
Long batter Hall connected and with an error by the third baseman, Strickland scored. Right-fielder Stevie Harrison then found the sweet spot, sending Wingate home and keeping the bases loaded. By the end of the inning the Tide was on top 4-1, and had managed to out hit their opponents 5 hits to 1.
But the Pirates, showed their determination in the top of the fourth by scoring four of their own, being led by a three-run homer by senior Evan Creamer.
During this inning, Long head coach Brian Thomas made a pitching change, inserting Britt Horn, with Appling back on top 5-4. Horn finished he inning, not allowing a score.
Over Long’s next four at-bats, the only hit managed was by Horn, a single, but on defensive the team made several out standing plays. Center-fielder Paul Lewandoski chased down three big fly balls, including one diving catch. There was also a double play by shortstop Richard Johnson, second baseman Shane White and first base Earl Freeman.
But no play was bigger than the one  that ended the top of the seventh.  After a wild pitch by Horn, the Pirate at third charged home, but catcher Strickland made a perfect toss to the pitcher, who stood firm at home, tagging the runner.  
Unfortunately, the Blue wasn’t able to score, and they lost, in what was probably one of their best performances of the year.
The Tide finished the night with six hits and two errors, while the Pirates had seven hits and one error.
“An outstanding performance. They never quit. They showed heart. We just got beat, but I’m very proud of the team tonight”, Thomas said.
The Blue Tide’s overall record is now at 8-4, but their 2-AA record fell to 2-3, dropping them to fourth in the region, behind Pierce County (6-0), Savannah Christian (4-1), Appling County (3-2), and Jeff Davis (2-2).
They were scheduled to be back home yesterday to take on the Savannah Christian Red Raiders.
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