The visiting Statesboro Blue Devils faced a determined Liberty County baseball team Friday. However, the home team fell short, 7-4, and dropped its third straight to the Blue Devils.
Statesboro scored in the first inning. The Panthers had the opportunity to tie the score but had their runner tossed out at home.
In the second inning, the Blue Devils hit consecutive pop-ups, which the Panthers defended to take their next at-bat.
With Jacari Roberts on first base, Quindon Montgomery was hit by a pitch. Colby Rhea got a hit to load the bases, and the Panthers appeared poised to pull ahead with only one out. Instead, the runners were left on base when a line drive to second base allowed the visiting team to convert a double play.
The Panther finally struck on offense in the bottom of the third inning. Gary Albertson was walked, and Lamar Speight was hit by a pitch. Curtis Michalowicz smacked an RBI double to the center-field fence, tying the game at 1. Speight was tagged out at home, but the Panthers had runners on first and second. Roberts hit another double to the center field fence for two runs and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 3-1. Montgomery also hit an RBI double, giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead going into the fourth inning.
The Blue Devils started to chip away at the lead in the fifth inning. With two outs and a runner on second, a series of throwing errors by Liberty allowed the Blue Devils to score a run. A shot to center field made the score 4-3 Liberty.
The Blue Devils struck again in the seventh inning. A Statesboro batter reached first, stole second and took third on a throwing error. The next batter was walked and stole second. An RBI hit tied the game. As the Panthers attempted to throw the runner out at home, the base runners started advancing bases. The Panther tried to get an out at second, giving the runner on third a chance to cross home and give Statesboro a 5-4 lead. A shot down the third base line and a hit to center field gave the Blue Devils the 7-4 win.
Michalowicz had two doubles, a single and an RBI; Roberts had a single, a double and two RBIs. Rhea hit two singles.
Rhea, a freshman, pitched 5 1/3 innings. Michalowicz pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief to close the game.
The Panthers are 2-11 overall and 0-7 in Region 3A-AAAA. They host South Effingham at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In other baseball news, the Bradwell Tigers were scheduled to play Groves on Friday in Garden City, but the rain forced the game to be postponed. The Tigers will host Brunswick at
6 p.m. Monday.