Bremen 12 Long County 6:
The Blue Tide 4 game winning streak was interrupted Friday afternoon in Brunswick. The Blue Devils ambushed the Tide with 6 first inning runs, showing early why they are considered the top team in Class AA in Georgia by Georgia Dugout Preview. Bremen was able to put together 6 hits, 1 walk, and a Tide error off Tide starter Allen Crystal and translate it all into a 6-run top of the 1st.
The Blue Devils added a single run in the top of the 2nd before the Tide would try to make a comeback in the bottom of the 3rd. Rex Johnson singled with two outs to plate Ethan Williams who had singled earlier in the inning. Allen Crystal was hit by a pitch and Luke Wells doubled into the left center field gap to score Johnson. With Crystal at 3rd and Wells at 2nd, consecutive wild pitches plated the final 2 runs of the inning and Bremen led 7-4.
The Devils reclaimed 3 of those runs in the top of the 4th off Blue Tide reliever TJ Criswell on the strength of 4 more hits, a walk and a couple of Tide miscues.
Down 10-4, the Blue Tide once again showed they were unwilling to roll over for the top ranked Devils. In the bottom of the 5th, third baseman Ethan Williams led off the inning with a double. After walks to Crystal and Wells, Freshman Joseph Cammack dropped a single into right scoring Williams and Crystal, cutting the lead to 10-6.
Bremen would add two more runs in the 6th, essentially salting the game away as the Tide ran out of outs, falling 12-6 for their first loss of the season.
“They could flat out hit,” said Long head coach James Hobbs. “We didn’t play terrible. They just hit well, pitched well, and played solid defense. But we could have scored more runs.”
“We definitely had some teachable moments and I think we got better from them,” he added.
Offensively for the Tide, Ethan Williams went 2-3 with a double. Joseph Cammack had a hit and 2 RBI. Luke Wells was 1-2 with a double, 1 walk, and an RBI. Crystal and Johnson both added a hit each.
Fortunately for the Tide, they would get the chance to put those lessons to work the following day against another quality opponent in the Fellowship Christian Paladins out of Roswell.
Fellowship Christian 3 Long County 2:
In sports, when a game doesn’t go your way, it is always good to get back to action as soon as you can. Long County had to wait less than 24 hours to try to get the bitter taste of their first loss out of their mouths. But 7 innings later, Fellowship Christian would hand the Tide their second consecutive loss in a well-played, hard fought high school baseball game.
Contrary to the afternoon before, Saturday’s matchup featured stellar pitching and defense by both teams. Tide senior pitcher Rex Johnson squared off with Paladin hurler Isaac Bouton in a pitcher’s dual that was anyone’s game until the final out.
It didn’t seem at first as though it would be that kind of a game for Johnson. After the Tide went quietly in the top of the 1st, Bouton helped himself and his team by launching the first pitch any Paladin saw on the afternoon over the left field fence for a quick 1-0 Fellowship lead. Johnson however would go right back to work and retire the next 6 Paladin batters he faced, giving his team a chance to come back.
The Tide made good on their chance in the top of the 3rd. Tide first baseman Carlos Cruz began the inning by reaching on an error by Paladin 3rd baseman David Bishop. After a double from TJ Criswell, Allen Crystal, again coming up big with runners on, snuck a sharp ground ball just inside the 1st base line for a double of his own with two outs scoring Cruz and Criswell and giving the Tide a 2-1 lead. For Crystal, it was his team leading 10th and 11th RBI of the season.
The Paladins however would strike back quickly. In the bottom of the same inning, center fielder Garret Hauenstein doubled to left with one out. He was followed by that man again, Bouton, who tripled in a run, tying the game at 2 apiece. A sacrifice fly from Preston Joye scored a Bouton and the Paladins led 3-2 after 3 innings.
Neither team would score again, and the Tide managed just 2 more baserunners the rest of the way.
Bouton was almost a one man show. At the plate he went 2-2, including a HR and a triple, driving in two of their runs, scoring 2 and also walking once. On the mound, Bouton went 7 complete innings allowing just 3 hits and 2 unearned runs, striking out 8 and walking none.
Mr. Bouton caught everyone’s attention including Tide coach James Hobbs. “Number 2 (Bouton) was an all-around ball player,” he said. “Good to see that kind of player to get us ready for region.”
Rex Johnson went 5 solid innings earning a tough loss on the mound. He allowed 5 hits, 3 earned runs, struck out 1 and walked 3.
“Rex pitched the best I’ve seen him pitch in my 2 years here. He is a competitor on the mound. You know he’s going to give you everything he has,” commented Hobbs. “He pitched to contact, and our defense did a heck of a job behind him.”
The Tide did not commit an error on the afternoon. And they didn’t just make the routine plays. The defense saved runs and baserunners all afternoon long making diving stops, scooping short-hop throws, and getting tremendous jumps in the outfield on fly balls in the gaps. And although there were plenty of defensive accolades to go around, Hobbs made a point to single out a couple of freshmen. Catcher Joseph Cammack, a freshman, is being forced to learn on the job at the varsity level when Johnson pitches. A good catcher is essential for a well-pitched ball game. “Cammack didn’t allow a passed ball today, and he got a hit with the bases loaded yesterday” he said. “I wanted to brag on my freshmen a little bit. Cole (Moss, filling in at shortstop for Ethan Wells out with illness) made some great plays yesterday.”
Ethan Williams finished the game for Long County with 1 complete inning allowing one hit and a walk, striking out 1. Crystal, as has been his custom all year, paced the Blue Tide offensively going 2-3 driving in the 2 Tide runs. Criswell went 1-3 with a double.
While the weekend was a disappointment for the Tide in the win column, playing 2 games with top caliber teams helps shape a team for the upcoming region schedule. Things you get away with versus some teams, you usually don’t when playing state ranked teams. And there were some things for coach Hobbs and the Tide to pull from.
“We can make certain mistakes against certain teams, but this shows them you can’t against good teams and win,” Hobbs said.
The Tide will host its neighbor Bradwell Institute Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m., preceded by JV action at 4 p.m., and will travel to Charlton County Thursday for a rematch with the Indians. There will be a JV game at 4, followed by varsity action at 6.