The Long County High School baseball team took the short drive to Hinesville for a matchup with rival Bradwell Institute Friday night. And after a highly emotional hard-fought game, the Blue Tide headed back to Ludowici with a dramatic 8-6 victory, sweeping the season series, having defeated the Tigers at home earlier in the season 5-0.
The Blue Tide have had the Tigers’ number the Last several years, last losing to their rivals back in 2015. But this night, even having lost to the Tide 5-0 earlier in Ludowici, the Tigers came to play. A confident, resilient, well coached Tiger team gave their visiting neighbors all they could handle.
The Tigers got themselves on the board early on the strength of 3 hits and a Tide error in the bottom of the 1st inning. Jack Brown followed singles by Daiton Pass and Brandon Hellgren with a 2 RBI single of his own, giving the Tigers an early 2-0 lead, and a measure of confidence. The Tigers kept the scoring going in the 2nd, with an RBI single from Isaac Lakin and an RBI double just short of the center field wall by Pass. The Tigers took a surprising to most 4-0 lead into the 3rd inning.
The Blue Tide chipped away at the lead in the top of the 3rd. A one out double off of the left field fence by Trevor Ray set the Tide up with a scoring opportunity’; an opportunity that TJ Criswell took advantage of with an RBI single, scoring Ray. After an Ethan Williams single, Allen Crystal doubled home Criswell and after 2 ½ innings, the Tigers continued to hold a 4-2 lead.
The Tigers added to their lead in the bottom of the 4th on a triple by Hellgren to right center field scoring Pass, who had reached on a Tide error. As the innings continued to tick by, the Tigers carried a 5-2 lead into the 6th inning.
Again, however, the Blue Tide would again chip away at the Tiger lead. And they did so in the top of the 6th on a long 2 run homerun by Noah Kuhaneck, scoring Tide 2nd baseman Luke Wells who had singled with one out making the score 5-4 Tigers. The momentum shifted a bit toward the visitors on the excitement of tape measure shot from Kuhaneck, but the Tigers, yet again, were not finished.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Blue Tide nemesis on this night, Brandon Hellgren, drove in another run with an RBI single scoring Daiton Pass, who also was a thorn in the Tide’s side all night himself. A seemingly important insurance run gave the tigers a 6-4 lead with only 3 outs left to get, and a chance to end a 6-year drought against their neighbors.
Clutch plays in crucial moments have been the mantra of the Blue Tide baseball team all year. And it would prove to be the case again this night. Down 2 to start the 7th, the Blue Tide desperately needed baserunners, in particular the lead off batter. Down 1-2 in the count, Tide right fielder Allen Crystal led the inning off with a clutch triple to set the tone of the inning for his club. He was followed by Luke Wells who promptly laced a single into left field, shrinking the Tiger lead to 6-5.
Dewayne Rowe followed with a solid single of his own, advancing Wells to 3rd and taking 2nd on the throw to 3rd. Two ground outs failed to score a run for the Tide. But with 2 outs and runners still at 2nd and 3rd, Joseph Cammack came up big with a 2-run, game tying single. And with runners again on 2nd and 3rd, Trevor Ray came through with his 2nd long double of the night, giving the Tide an 8-6 lead that they would not relinquish.
Despite walking 2 batters in the bottom of the 7th, Ray who came on in relief of Luke Wells, was able to escape, as did the Tide, with an 8-6 victory, running the Blue Tide record to 7-1 on the season. With the disappointing loss, the Tigers slipped to 3-4 for the year.
The Blue Tide collected 13 hits on the night as a unit. L. Wells, Ray, and Kuhaneck paced the Tide offensively, each driving in 2 runs. Wells led the Tide on the mound in relief throwing 4 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 6.
Long rolls past Metter, 7-1
The Long County Blue Tide baseball team got back on track after losing their first game of the season to Gilmer County. They did so at the expense of the visiting Metter Tigers, taking care of business with an impressive 7-1 victory Tuesday night in Ludowici.
After a scoreless 3 and a half innings, the Tide bats came alive in the bottom of the 4th, scoring 4 two out runs. Tide 2nd baseman Luke Wells got things started with a 1 out double. Trevor Ray drove in Wells with a 2 out single to center, giving the home team a 1-0 lead. The Tide followed Ray’s single with 3 more consecutive 2 out singles. Joseph Cammack followed a Carlos Cruz base hit with a single of his own, driving in Ray. TJ Criswell finished off the scoring with yet another single, scoring courtesy runner Ethan Williams and Cruz, giving Long County a 4-0 lead.
The Tigers managed their lone run of the game in the top of the 6th on a bases loaded infield single with nobody out. But what could have been a huge inning for the Tigers was thwarted by a clutch performance by Tide reliever Ethan Williams, who proceeded to strike out 3 straight Tigers and end the threat.
The Blue Tide padded the lead in the bottom of the same inning on a 2-run double off of the bat of Dewayne Rowe, scoring Criswell and Ethan Wells. Allen Crystal rounded out the scoring for the inning and the game with an RBI single to left increasing the Tide lead to a 7-1 lead that would prove to be the final.
The Blue Tide once again were powered by excellent pitching and a solid performance from the offense.
In total, Tide pitchers allowed only 1 earned run on just 4 hits. A deep and effective pitching staff has been a recipe for success all season thus far. Starter Noah Kuhaneck went 5 strong innings allowing just 2 hits, no earned runs, 3 strike outs and 1 walk. He was relieved by Ethan Williams (1IP, 2H, 1ER, 3K, 1BB) and Criswell (1IP, 0H, 0ER, 1K, 1BB) to close it out for Long County.
Offensively, the Blue Tide managed 10 hits, including 2 with an RBI by Crystal, and 2 RBI apiece from Criswell and Rowe. Ray and Cammack chipped in an RBI each in the winning effort.
The Tide now sit at 6-1 on the year and played BI Feb. 28 in a game rescheduled from Wednesday due to Tide basketball’s Elite Eight home game.
They will hit the road to Dublin to square off against East Laurens in a Saturday double header.
Blue Tide splits at the Beach
Long County High School picked up an early morning win and suffered its first lost of the baseball season in Brunswick on Feb. 22 at Edo Miller Park.
Here’s a recap.
Long County 12,
Game 1: 10 a.m.
The Blue Tide fell behind 1-0 in the 1st inning but managed to come back and cruise to a 12-3 victory. Long County was propelled by a 5 run 3rd inning and a 5 run 7th inning.
With the early morning victory, the Blue Tide improved their 2020 season record to 5-0. The Purple Hurricanes fell to 2-6. Offensively the Tide were led by Allen Crystal’s 2/5 night including a double and 4 RBI. TJ Criswell (2/4, 2R, 1RBI, 3SB) Dewayne Rowe (1/3, 2R, 1 RBI, 2SB) and Luke Wells (2/5, 1R, 1RBI) also played a major role in the offensive outburst.
Trevor Ray got his 1st start on the mound this season and continues to pitch well for the Blue Tide. Ray (4IP, 2H, 0ER, 4K, 4BB) was relieved after 4 by Ethan Wells (1IP, 1H, 1ER, 2BB.) Criswell (2IP, 0H, 0ER, 5K, 1BB) went the final 2 innings to close it out for Long County.
Collectively, the Tide banged out 12 hits while allowing only 1 earned run.
Gilmer County 3, Long County 1
Game 2: 7 p.m.
Despite out hitting the Bobcats 7-3, Long County suffered it’s first defeat of the 2020 season at the hands of Gilmer County. The Bobcats were opportunistic, taking advantage of the lone Blue Tide error while scoring 3 runs (1 earned) in the 4th inning. The Blue Tide squared the ball up all night but couldn’t find any holes in the defense. They had multiple opportunities to drive in runs, but couldn’t get anything to fall, especially when it mattered the most. Luke Wells (1/4, 1RBI) provided the lone RBI with a 1st inning single. TJ Criswell went 2/4. Dewayne Rowe collected a hit with a run scored. Ethan Wells singled twice for the Tide.
Noah Kuhaneck started for Long County going 4 innings, allowing just 2 hits and 1 earned run, striking out 5. Ethan Williams finished the game throwing 3 shutout innings allowing one hit and striking out 5.
The Blue Tide fell to 5-1 0n the season. The Bobcats improved to 2-4.