LUDOWICI -- The Long County Blue Tide baseball team is currently ranked as one of the top teams in the state in the AAA classification. They remained undefeated on the season with a win over AAAA Islands on Saturday, March 12, but it took an early rally to pull off the victory.
Having defeated the Sharks 11-7 earlier in the week, the Tide looked to stay unbeaten on the season. Things got off to a rough start as the Sharks loaded the bases on a walk with just one out on the board.
A two-RBI single and a walked run gave the Sharks an early 3-0 lead with two outs on the board. Senior pitcher Brennan Lee was pulled after just two-thirds of an inning pitched and replaced by sophomore Landon Runyon.
Runyon faced a bases loaded situation and the windy conditions caused him to hit the first batter he faced, bringing in a fourth run. The Tide were able to get out of the jam on the next batter as they faced one of the biggest deficits of the season.
Four runs were not enough for the Sharks however, as the Tide immediately went to work at the plate. Seniors Dwayne Rowe, Jacob Struble and Daniel Edwards all singled in their first at bats as the former two scored on an error and a passed ball.
The two Sharks errors cut their lead in half as they led 4-2 going into the second. The Tide turned on the defense from that point on, allowing just one run over the next two innings and shutting out the Sharks after the third.
Freshman Nick Sizemore turned an impressive double play to close out the second inning as Runyon recorded a strikeout and just one hit.
The sophomore sensation walked to open the bottom half of the inning as did senior Blake Holland before Lee singled to score Runyon to make the score 4-3.
Struble came back up to the plate and cracked a two-RBI single to give the Tide a 5-4 lead going into the third.
Runyon recorded two more strikeouts in the third, but allowed two hits, which eventually tied the game at five. The Tide bats had his back in the fourth however as Rowe led off with his second hit of the game.
Struble walked and Edwards brought home his fellow senior on a single. Cammack singled before Runyon came up to the plate.
What was surely going to be a routine pop fly turned into a hit as the ball was knocked down in shallow right by the wind. This allowed the Tide to score their seventh and final run of the game.
It turned into a defensive struggle the last three innings. Runyon recorded three more strikeouts to bring his total to seven in four and two-thirds innings of work.
Freshman Kenny Pickens took the mound for his first pitching appearance of the season and was impressive in preserving the Tide’s win.
He finished off the sixth with a strikeout of his own. Despite allowing two hits in the top of the seventh and getting two men on with two outs, he dug in on the mound.
Pickens pulled off a looking strikeout to give his team the 7-5 lead and move the Tide to 11-0 on the year.
The Blue Tide are ranked in the top ten of the MaxPreps, Coaches Box, and Georgia Dugout Preview polls. They will face their toughest challenge of the year when they host the South Effingham Mustangs on Tuesday, March 15.
The Mustangs are 8-3 on the year and ranked number three in AAAAAA according to MaxPreps and Georgia Dugout Preview and number five in the Coaches Box poll.