After dropping Game 1 to the Appling County Pirates on Tuesday, April 20, the Long County Blue Tide baseball team knew they needed to win Game 2 on Thursday, April 22 to stay in the hunt for a home game in the first round of the state playoffs. However, an early run from the Pirates fell the Tide by a 7-5 final.
For most of the season, the Blue Tide have prided themselves on their defense. However, the Pirates scored seven runs in the first three innings, which doomed the Tide.
The Pirates got things going on a leadoff double on the first pitch from Trevor Ray. A walk and another hit loaded the bases with no outs.
The Pirates scored two consecutive runs on sacrifice pop flies. They ended the inning with a third run on an error to hold the 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the inning.
The Tide did not let the early deficit faze them. TJ Criswell smacked a leadoff single on the first pitch and was moved around to third after Dwayne Rowe reached first, then second on an error.
Jacob Struble walked to load the bases with no outs on the board and Daniel Edwards scored Criswell on a sacrifice fly. Joseph Cammack brought home Rowe after he reached first on a Pirate error to make the score 3-2.
Ethan Wells got to first on a great bunt, but Cammack was thrown out at second. Ray singled and scored Struble to tie the game.
Struble took over on the mound in the top of the second and things started off rough for him. The Tide got one out, but not before a hit and two walks loaded the bases.
The Pirates scored one to take the 4-3 lead. Struble, however, was able to work his way out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
The Tide managed one hit in the bottom of the inning, but could not strike back to tie or take the lead. The Pirates came back up in the top of the third with a score to settle.
Two straight walks led to the Pirates in a good position to add to their lead. An attempted pickoff from Struble at second sailed into centerfield, allowing two runs to score. The Pirates closed the inning off with another run on a bases loaded walk to take the 7-3 lead.
Edwards opened the bottom of the inning with a single before Wells walked. Landon Runyon came in to pinch hit for Noah Kuhaneck before he was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs.
Blake Holland walked to make the score 7-4. The Pirates made a change on the mound, but not before the home plate umpire called for a sun delay that lasted a little over 30 minutes.
Criswell took to the plate after the delay and faced a huge opportunity. However, the Pirates were able to make a play at first and end the inning down three.
Holland took the mound in the fourth and shut down two Pirates before allowing a hit. He closed the inning off with a strikeout as the Tide came back up to the plate.
Struble got on base with a single while Edwards was hit by a pitch. Wells walked for a second time to load the bases as Ray came up to bat with two outs.
The count was 2-2 when head coach James Hobbs made a gutsy call. He sent Struble hurtling towards home plate as he beat the pitch and tag from the catcher to make the score 7-5 going into the fifth inning.
The scoring came to a screeching halt at this point. Holland shut down two Pirate batters before hitting two and allowing a hit to load the bases, but the Tide held strong to allow no more runs.
The Tide tried to get some momentum going across the next three innings, but could not, despite getting base runners on walks and hits.
The Pirates held on for the 7-5 win to clinch the number two seed in the state playoffs as the Tide are now locked in the three spot, meaning they will travel in at least the first round of the state playoffs.
In Friday’s regular season finale, the Tide traveled back to Baxley for Game 3. The Tide got back the game with a 12-9 victory to avoid the series sweep.
With the win, the Tide finish the regular season 13-12 and 6-6 in the region. They will travel to Madison on Thursday, April 29 to play the Morgan County Bulldogs in a doubleheader in the first round of the GHSA AAA state baseball playoffs.