The Long County Blue Tide baseball team ran its record to 4-0 on the season Monday night with a 12-2 victory at home over the visiting Jenkins Warriors of Savannah. The Tide, as has been the theme all season, relied on their pitching and defense, and a big inning to put the game away. TJ Criswell got the start and the win for the Tide. Patrick Blake took the loss for the Warriors.
The Tide got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning when with two outs, Blake walked both Allen Crystal and Luke Wells. Tide senior catcher Rex Johnson reached on an error charged to Warrior shortstop Carson Mason. On the play, Carson’s throw got away from first baseman Amon Tinsley, and by the time the ball was secured, Crystal and Wells had scored from 2nd and 1st for an early 2-0 lead.
The Blue Tide added 2 more in the bottom of the 2nd. A walk to Dwayne Rowe, a bunt single by Hayden Beasley, and another walk to Carlos Cruz loaded the bases to start the inning with nobody out. Ethan Williams, making his first start of the year on his way back from illness, then laid down a sacrifice bunt scoring Rowe. Criswell followed with a ground out to shortstop Mason scoring Beasley, but Cruz was thrown out by Tinsley trying to advance to 3rd.
The Warriors, down 4-0 entering the top of the 3rd, would finally push a run across. The Warriors started the inning with a walk, a double, a strikeout, and another walk to load the bases with 1 out. The 3rd Criswell walk to Carson Mason would plate Warrior left fielder Frank George, making the score 4-1 and prompting Long County coach James Hobbs to make a pitching change bringing in 3rd baseman Ethan Williams in relief. Williams was able to stop the rally short by striking out Blake swinging and forcing a ground ball to 3rd from Warrior 2nd baseman Rodney Anderson.
Criswell finished the night going 2 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and one earned run while striking out 3, but walking 6. “We wanted to see how TJ would do starting a game. He usually pitches in relief. He did a good job except for a few too many walks. He maybe was getting squeezed a little early in the game and it got in his head,” Hobbs commented.
The Tide, as has been their mode of operation this season, broke the game open with a big 4th inning. To this point, the only Blue Tide hits came courtesy of a bunt single by Beasley in the 2nd and an infield hit by Crystal in the 3rd.
Johnson started the inning with a solid line drive out to center field. Freshman Dwayne Rowe followed with a line drive triple down the right field line and it looked as though the bats were coming alive. However, after a walk to Cole Moss, Rowe was caught stealing home for the 2nd out. Carlos Cruz would also walk and with runners at 1st and 3rd with 2 outs, Williams singled to left scoring Moss and giving the home team a 5-1 lead.
Criswell followed with a single scoring Cruz. Ethan Wells, with Williams at 3rd and Criswell at 2nd, reached 1st on an infield hit to the left side to load the bases. With a 6-1 lead, Tide right fielder Allen Crystal stretched the lead to 9-1 when he drilled a fastball off Warrior reliever Johnson over the head of right fielder Kyree McClean for his 2nd bases loaded, bases clearing triple in as many games.
Crystal is hitting .571 on the young season, leading the team in RBI with 7; 6 of them on two swings of the bat. “Allen was big for us. Again.” Hobbs said.
The Tide scored one more time in the inning when Luke Wells reached on a Warrior error scoring Crystal for an 10-1 lead.
The Warriors added a single run in the top of the 6th to make the core 10-2 Tide. But the Tide would score 2 without an out in the bottom of the 6th by virtue of an infield hit by Criswell, consecutive walks to Ethan Wells, Crystal, and Luke Wells, for an 11-2 lead. The final run crossed home plate when Rex Johnson was hit by a pitch to end the game, 12-2 in 6 innings.
Ethan Williams finished his night on the mound going 2 2/3 innings, allowing 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 K’s, and 0 walks. Johnson finished the game throwing 1 inning, allowing no hits, 1 unearned run, 2 K’s and 1 walk.
Criswell went 2-4 at the plate with an RBI. Dwayne Rowe went 2-2 with a double and a triple and Crystal finished the night 2-2 including a triple, 2 walks, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.
The Tide will be back in action Friday the 22nd in Brunswick at 4 p.m. when they face the Bremen Blue Devils as part of the annual Bash at the Beach baseball extravaganza, and then again at 1 p.m. today, Saturday, as they face Fellowship Christian of Roswell. Both games will be played at Edo Miller Park in Brunswick.