Liberty County High School won the first matchup with Bradwell this season, but Bradwell wasn’t going to let the crosstown rivals beat them on the Tigers’ field.
The teams battled for 10 innings Monday, and the Tigers managed to squeeze out the last run needed to take the 8-7 win in Hinesville.
“It was a back-and-forth game, and the kids never gave up after being down in consecutive innings,” Tiger coach Rhett Hellgren said.
“It was a great game,” Panther coach Joel Moody said.
The Tigers struck in the first inning when Sage Sammons drove in two runs off a single. The Panthers answered in the second when Lamar Speight drove in Jacari Roberts with a double down the left-field line.
The Tigers took a 4-2 lead off James Moon’s two-run single.
But Liberty rallied in the fifth inning with six hits including consecutive doubles by Roberts, JT Evans and Vince Smith. That gave the Panthers a 6-4 lead.
Moody brought in Curtis Michalowicz to relieve freshman Colby Rhea, who pitched the first four innings.
Michalowicz pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers drew two walks, and Sammons drove in Kyle Lannum with a single.
With two outs, DJ Jefferson stole home to tie the game, 6-6.
“Jefferson got the jump on the ball, and it was great,” Hellgren said
Both teams scored one run in the eighth inning, with Bradwell’s run coming off a fielding error by Liberty.
“We allowed a routine groundball to first base that would have won the game for us roll right through our legs and again tie the game,” Moody said.
After a quiet ninth inning, Tiger batter James Moon drew a walk, and Ryan Desbiens laid down a bunt that was mishandled by Liberty to put Moon in scoring position.
The Tiger soon faced two outs, but Moon was able to cross the plate after Liberty pitcher Bailey Kitchings was called balk was called for the winning run.
Desbiens, Moon and Sammons each went 2 for 4 at the plate for Bradwell.
Panther J.T. Evans had four hits, Jacari Roberts and Lamar Speight had three hits, and Gary Albertson, Quinndon Montgomery and Colby Rhea had two hits each. Liberty had 19 hits.
“I’ll give all the credit to the Bradwell coaching staff for making that call to steal home and ultimately risk ending the game…It takes a lot of guts to send that kid in that situation and I told Rhett and his staff that…but I’m very proud of our players,” Moody said. “We outhit them 19-9 and certainly played well enough to win. It just wasn’t meant to be. We gave up the winning run without giving up a hit. Congratulations to B.I. on a well-played game, and best of luck to them the rest of the season.”
Chris Bell pitched 6 2/3 innings for the win.
“It was an exciting game, going 10 innings. Scoring in extra innings doesn’t happen that often,” Hellgren said. “We were very fortunate to come out on top. It was a great game between two good teams.”
On Friday, Bradwell lost a close Region 3-AAAAA contest at Jenkins, falling 7-6. Hellgren said the game was tied, 5-5, but the Warriors scored two to the Tigers’ one run in the final inning for the win.