On the heels of Friday’s 12-1 scrimmage victory on the road at Metter High, The Long County Blue Tide baseball team started the regular season off in the win column by trouncing the visiting New Hampstead Phoenix by a final score of 12-2 in a 5 inning affair shortened by the run rule.
The Tide held an early 2-0 lead, but broke the game open with a big 8 run 4th inning. Phoenix starter Orlando Carter, despite some early tight spots, had managed to keep the game close until the fateful 4th inning.
The Phoenix started the game with some promise in the top of the 1st as leadoff batter Orlando Carter singled to left off Tide starter Rex Johnson. He was, however, quickly erased when Phoenix catcher Jacob Gilky bounced a ground ball to Tide SS Ethan Wells for a tailor-made 6-3 double play. After a walk to Armond Jackson, Johnson was able to get out of the inning by inducing another ground ball to Wells for a 6-4 force to end the inning.
The Tide took their early lead in the bottom of the 1st when Luke Wells singled to right scoring Crystal who had singled to center and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. The Tide would add a 2nd run in the bottom of the 3rd when Luke Wells hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Ethan Wells who had reached on a HBP and increasing the lead to 2-0.
That was as close as the game would be the rest of the way.
Left fielder Hayden Beasley got the 4th inning started with a single to left field. After Beasley stole 2nd, Tide 1st baseman Carlos Cruz was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch to Tide 3rd baseman Trevor Ray moved Beasley up to 3rd, prompting the Phoenix to turn to reliever Ethan Macklin.
Ray would reach on an infield hit to 3rd, scoring Beasley and making the score 3-0 Tide. The flood gates were opened and would stay that way for a while. Another wild pitch put runners again on 2nd and 3rd, and center fielder TJ Criswell reached on a ground ball to SS Mason Bidnick, scoring Cruz. A double steal scored Ray and left Criswell at 2nd. 5-0 Tide.
After a strikeout by Macklin of Tide SS Ethan Wells, right fielder Allen Crystal laced a Macklin pitch into the right center field gap for a triple that scored Criswell. Crystal also scored on the play on a throwing error, making the score 7-0 Blue Tide.
Luke Wells got the inning restarted with a walk and was followed by senior catcher Rex Johnson who reached on a misplayed fly ball to Phoenix right fielder John Marerro. After a strikeout of freshman catcher Joseph Cammack, another Phoenix wild pitch plated Wells and Johnson adding 2 more runs, making the score 9-0.
With the bases again cleared and with two outs, the flood gates appeared to finally be closing. But Beasley, who started the inning with a single, singled again, this time to center. Cruz followed by banging a one hop double off the left field fence, scoring Beasley for the Blue Tide’s 8th and final run of the inning and a commanding 10-0 lead.
The Phoenix scored their only two runs in the top of the 5th when a fly ball to left by Chris Smart escaped the grasp of Tide left fielder Beasley, scoring two and avoiding temporarily the 10 run mercy rule. Earlier in the inning the Phoenix were denied their 1st run when Gilkey singled to right field with Carter on 2nd. Carter, who has good speed, never hesitated rounding 3rd, but right fielder Crystal, who had quite a night, unleashed a frozen rope to catcher Rex Johnson who leaped and made the catch, applying the tag in time to get the out.
The final 2 Blue Tide runs came in the bottom of the 5th on a sacrifice fly to right by Luke Wells and a wild pitch scoring Criswell to end the game by virtue of the run rule, 12-2.
Tide starting pitcher Rex Johnson got the win going 3 innings, allowing 3 hits, 2walks, 1 HBP, and striking out 3. Reliever TJ Criswell pitched the final 2 innings allowing 4 hits, 1 intentional walk, 2 unearned runs while striking out 2.
Offensively, Long County was led by Allen Crystal who went 3-3 with a sacrifice bunt, a triple and an RBI. Luke wells went 1-2 with a couple of sacrifice flies and 3 RBIs. 5 different Tide batters contributed by driving in at least 1 run and the 11 hits were spread out among 8 different players.
The Tide figure to face a little more competition today when they welcome the perennial Class A powerhouse Charlton County Indians to Ludowici. JV action begins at 4 p.m. followed by the varsity game at 6.