The Long County Blue Tide baseball team was coming off the heels of a 5-4 extra innings loss to South Effingham on Tuesday, March 16 as they welcomed in the McIntosh County Academy Buccaneers on St. Patrick’s Day. The Bucs led for much of the game, but a three-run seventh inning got the Tide back in the win column.
The Tide started off strong defensively as they turned a double play in the top of the first, keeping MCA off the board. They did not record a hit in the bottom half of the inning, but got four runners on base thanks to walks.
Senior Noah Kuhaneck recorded his first RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. The Tide added a second run on a passed ball as the Tide took a 2-0 lead into the second inning.
The Bucs were back at the plate and were able to get three on base in the inning on a hit and two walks. They got on the board after an error, despite Kuhaneck making a great throw for the pickoff at third base. It was 2-1 going into the bottom half of the inning, where the Tide only mustered one hit.
The Bucs’ bats finally got going in the third inning as they recorded six hits and scored three runs. Senior TJ Criswell did do a good job of preventing a fourth run by gunning a man down at home from shallow centerfield, while the Bucs scored one of their runs on a pickoff attempt at second base.
The Tide did get one run back in the bottom half of the third as junior Dwayne Rowe recorded his first RBI with a single. But the Tide still trailed 4-3 going into the fourth.
The Bucs only saw their lead grow in the top half of the fourth as they put two more runs on the board. One of the runs came off a double to right field and another was on an error down the third base line.
Despite trailing 6-3, the Tide did not stop fighting as they got going again in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, Criswell and junior Jacob Struble both got on base with singles while Kuhaneck recorded his second RBI with his own single.
Junior Joseph Cammack reached first base on an error as the Tide loaded the bases. Rowe came up and smacked his second RBI to make the score 6-5 in favor of MCA. The inning ended with two men on base, but it was once again just a one-run game.
Freshman Landon Runyon took over on the mound and had a rather impressive showing. In the fifth, the hurled three strikeouts, with one batter reaching first on a passed ball. He did allow two hits, but the two runs scored by the Bucs were unearned as they led 8-5.
The Tide got back in the game in the bottom of the inning as they scored on a sacrifice RBI from Kuhaneck and two errors, including a passed ball at the plate, to tie the game at eight.
Runyon sat down three Buccaneer batters with strikeouts in the top of the sixth and the Tide couldn’t get on the board in the bottom half as the game remained tied at eight.
Two MCA runners were able to get on base off a walk and a hit batter in the seventh. They were able to score on an error and a sacrifice fly as they took a 10-8 lead going into the bottom half of the final inning.
The Tide needed a big rally in the bottom of the inning and they got just that. It started with two walks from Daniel Edwards and Struble. With two outs, the Tide’s chances seemed bleak, but they really got started with the pressure on.
Cammack cracked a single to bring home one run and make the score 10-9. Rowe came to the plate with two outs and two one.
A passed ball scored a runner to tie the game and put the winning run on second base. Rowe showed the ice water in his veins as he smacked a shot into right field and brought home the winning run and the celebration was on.
Rowe was a perfect 3-3 from the plate with three RBIs and one walk. Kuhaneck finished 1-2 from the plate but had three RBIs, two coming off sacrifice hits.
Runyon came in late and ended up with the win as he recorded six strikeouts and just two hits with one run in three innings of work.
The Tide move to 6-4 on the year and will look to keep their momentum going as they host Liberty County on Wednesday, March 24 and Statesboro on Thursday, March 25 before opening Region 1-AAA play the following week.