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Blue Tide opens region with loss
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Long County came up a little short  Friday night, losing to Pierce County 3-2 in the Blue Tide’s Region 2-AA opener.
Brandon Simmons was on the mound for the Tide and pitched a solid game going the distance.
Simmons started out the first two innings disposing of the Bear lineup —six up, and six down.  
Pierce County appeared to be in trouble early when Ryan Simmons got a base hit in the second, followed by Stevie Harrison being walked. This put Tide players on first and second with only one out.  
Catcher Shane White hit a line drive at the Bear pitcher, but he made the catch and threw to second making the double play to end the inning
Blue Tide coach Wayne Sasser had a scare in the third, when Pierce County’s fourth batter hit a ground ball at Simmons hitting him on his push off, right foot. Fortunately, the pitcher walked off the injury  and continued to pitch effectively.  
Needing no more bad news, Sasser and the Blue Tide had learned on Wednesday that starting pitcher Blake Strickland would be lost for the majority, if not all, of the season, with a broken foot from an injury last week.
The game remained scoreless through the first three innings, but in the bottom of the fourth the Pierce County coach pulled starting pitcher David O’Neal, and inserted Hugh Lee.
Lee started out by walking Stetson Strickland, and then an error by the Bears resulted in Brandon Simmons getting on first.  Now, with a runner in scoring position, and no outs, Ryan Simmons got a hit and Simmons advanced to third as Strickland scored.  On the play, Simmons was tagged out at second. Stevie Harrison hit a sacrifice fly, and Simmons who was on third, beat the throw to home, and the Blue Tide led 2-0 at the end of four.
Both teams were scoreless in the fifth, but in the top of the sixth the Bear batters started finding their mark, and with two errors by the Blue Tide, Pierce County scored three runs to go up 3-2.
Having faced 28 batters through six innings, Brandon Simmons came out in the top of the seventh needing to shut the Bears down to give the Blue Tide a chance to pull off the upset.
In the inning, he started out shaky giving up two base hits and a walk to have runners on all three bases, with one out. As the fifth batter came to the plate, three strikes later, he was sitting in the bullpen. When the sixth batter came up, he too struck out, and the Tide had their chance.
Unfortunately for Long County, Bear pitcher, Lee was just as effective and the Tide went three and out, getting another disappointing loss, 3-2.
In the game, Pierce County had eight hits and made three errors, while Long County had four hits and made two errors.
Hugh Lee got the win for the Bears and Brandon Simmons  ended up with the loss.  
For the night, Simmons faced 31 batters.
Pierce County now is 2-0 in the region standings, followed by the Charlton County Indians at 1-0. Long County takes on the Indians at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Folkston
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