The Long County Blue Tide baseball team’s 2021 season is in full swing and they are looking to compete for a region and state title after the 2020 season was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic is still playing a role even a year later as their season was delayed two weeks due to quarantine, but on Saturday, March 6 the team finally had their season opener.
After two season opening losses to Brunswick and Prince Avenue Christian in the Baseball at the Beach Invitational last weekend, the Blue Tide got their first win of the year against Bradwell with a 14-11 victory. They hosted the East Laurens Falcons in a doubleheader to open their home slate and they rolled to two victories.
The first game opened up as well as the Tide could have hoped as junior pitcher Jacob Struble struck out three batters in the top of the first. The team’s bats got off to a good start as junior Dwayne Rowe and senior Noah Kuhaneck both recorded RBI singles.
Junior Joseph Cammack loaded the bases with another single as senior Ethan Wells brought home another run. Fellow senior Trevor Ray took to the plate and cracked a single to bring home two more runners to give the Tide a 5-0 lead all before the Falcons could record a single out.
East Laurens made a great double play to finally stifle the Tide’s momentum, but the home team still had a good lead going into the second inning.
Struble made an impressive pickoff play from the mound to pick up an out in the top half of the second as they kept the Falcons off the scoreboard again.
Senior TJ Criswell set up the Tide in scoring position with his first hit of the game and a stolen base to get on second. Struble continued to make plays as he brought Criswell home on a single.
Kuhaneck recorded his second RBI of the game with a big double to score Rowe. Wells and Ray followed that up with RBIs of their own to make the score 9-0.
Struble continued to dominate on the mound as he recorded two more strikeouts in the top of the third, but the Tide could not get on the board in the bottom half of the inning.
The fourth inning continued to belong to Long County as they kept the Falcons off the board and took to the plate again. Junior Blake Holland came in to pinch hit and eventually loaded the bases before fellow junior Cole Moss took a hit at the plate to make the score 10-0.
With the bases loaded, Struble crushed a ball deep to right field and cleared the bases with a stand-up triple to make the score 13-0.
An RBI double from Kuhaneck and RBI single from Cammack led to the Blue Tide pulling out the 15-0 run rule to take the first game.
In the game, Struble got the win on the mound with six strikeouts and just two hits allowed. He went 4-4 from the plate with four RBIs. Kuhaneck went 3-4 with three RBIs. Ray recorded 3 RBIs as well, going 2-3 from the plate.
Wells recorded two RBIs while Rowe and Cammack both put runs across the plate as well.
30 minutes and some field conditioning later, the Tide and Falcons were ready to take the field. This game started off much closer, but it did end with another dominant Tide victory.
Ray took to the mound to open the game and was able to get two strikeouts in the top of the first inning. Criswell walked and Struble recorded a single before Cammack was able to reach first on an error and give his team the 1-0 lead.
The Falcons’ bats finally got going in the second inning as they recorded four hits and scored two runs. Ray was able to work his way out of a loaded bases jam with his third strikeout of the inning and the Tide were back at the plate.
Down 2-1, the Tide were able to load the bases as Criswell brought home two runs with a big double. Struble followed that up with his fifth RBI of the game to give the Tide a 4-2 lead.
The Tide did not give up their lead for the rest of the game, but the Falcons did threaten them in the third inning. The Falcons got a hit and got three bases on hit batters before adding another run to the scoreboard, but Ray recorded his final two strikeouts to close up the inning.
The next three innings were pretty uneventful, but Moss took the mound and was impressive in relief of Ray. The bottom of the sixth inning was where the Tide put the game away.
The Tide loaded the bases on two hit batters and a single before Kuhaneck blasted a double to clear the bases and make the score 7-3. Cammack scored the senior with a single RBI to make the score 8-3.
Wells singled as did Ray. Two overthrows led to Wells getting across the plate to make the score 9-3. Junior Daniel Edwards took the plate and recorded his first RBI of the day to make the score 10-3.
Freshman Landon Runyon walked as did Criswell as the Tide scored another run with the bases loaded. Struble closed out the inning and his day with an RBI to make the score 12-3.
Moss took the win with three innings of work with two strikeouts and just one hit and no runs allowed. Struble finished the second game 3-3 with two RBIs, bringing his two game total to six.
Kuhaneck had three RBIs on his only hit of the game and Criswell brought in two as well. Cammack and Edwards also each had an RBI in the game.
The Tide now move to 3-3 on the season and will look to complete the season sweep of Bradwell as they host the Tigers on Tuesday, March 9.