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SEB, Conner shut down Laney

    BROOKLET — Matt Conner pitched five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 10 in the span, as the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets (5-4, 1-1 Region 3-AA) got their first region win of the season, knocking off the Laney Wildcats (3-2-1, 0-2) 5-0 Friday night.
    “(Conner) did a great job. He threw strikes,” said SEB coach Brandon Peterson, who was standing in for head coach Stephen Hoyle after Hoyle was suspended two games for an ejection in the region-opener against Swainsboro. “He got into a couple of situations where he had to work himself out, but he did a good job. That’s all we need out of him. If he can throw strikes, he’s going to be in good shape for us.”
    Conner, who helped himself out at the plate with a pair of singles and an RBI, combined with Jarad Page and Joe Wilson for the one-hit shutout, and the trio struck out 14 Wildcats in the effort.
    The Jackets got most of the scoring done in the early going, plating four runs in the first three innings.
    Centerfielder Tony Raymond led off the game with a double to the right-center gap, and Conner later drove him in on an RBI single grounded between the Wildcats’ shortstop and third baseman.
    “We put (Raymond) in the leadoff spot tonight,” said Peterson. “We’ve had a few guys in there trying to find someone. Tony’s been putting the ball in play for us, so we gave him a chance tonight and he did a good job.
    “Leading off the game with a double — that’s what we want. He did a real good job, and if he can put it in play and stay consistent, he may find himself nestled in that leadoff spot.”
    In the second, with Wilson on third after a passed ball and a stolen base and two down, Raymond (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB) hit a check-swing RBI single to short. Raymond scored the second run of the inning on a Justin Daniels RBI single that put the Jackets up 3-0.
    Dustin Stall crossed the plate on an error in the following inning, and Casey Woodrum scored SEB’s final run in the bottom of the sixth after David McCarthy’s pop fly to center was mishandled, putting the Jackets up 5-0.
    Although Southeast Bulloch stranded 10 runners on the night — eight in scoring position — the first region win provided a confidence boost in the early region schedule.
    “It’s big,” Peterson said. “We didn’t play well against Swainsboro, but we bounced back tonight. We left a few runners on base, but pitchers threw strikes and the defense played very well. Any region win is a big win for us, so we just have to keep it rolling.”
    The Jackets return to region play Tuesday against Josey, another Augusta squad.
Notes: Laney relief pitcher Terrence Devoe pitched three innings, allowing no hits or earned runs and striking out four. … Conner threw just 75 pitches through his five innings of work. … Hoyle’s ejection in the Swainsboro game was over a debate concerning the rules. …     The Wildcats had only four players reach scoring position on the night, ending each scoring opportunity with a strikeout.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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