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Connell, Simmons send Devils to win

    Luke Connell’s blast over the right field wall in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the game winner, as No. 10 Statesboro beat No. 5 Lee County 3-2 Saturday at Mill Creek.
    With two outs and nobody on, Connell faced a 3-2 count and LCHS starter Chandler Medley.
    “I got deep in the count and I thought he was going to be the hero and try to throw something by me,” said Connell. “I knew the fastball was coming — I had to sit on it. I waited back, got my hands back and exploded on the ball.”
    Connell took the belt-high fast ball and planted it over the right field fence to give SHS (6-0) a 3-2 lead. Statesboro starter Crawford Simmons took care of the rest.
    Simmons pitched a complete game, striking out seven and allowing just two runs. He set down the Trojans 1-2-3 to end the game in the top of the seventh.
    “I struggled to find the zone early in the game,” said Simmons.  “But then I found it, they put some balls in play and my defense made some good plays behind me.”
    Simmons and Medley battled neck and neck for the entire game until Medley’s sixth inning mistake.
    The Devils led 2-1 in the top of the fourth when Lee’s Will Raines led off the inning with a double to right. Colt Glover followed that with a single to right to tie the game at two, scoring pinch runner Adam Coffee. Statesboro head coach Chris Bishop stuck with Simmons despite the middle inning trouble and even starting some action in the SHS bullpen.
    “We just wanted to be prepared,” said Bishop. “We didn’t want to send (Simmons) out there and have him get fatigued and have some trouble take place.”
    That trouble never came, and Simmons didn’t allow a hit after that point.
    Statesboro took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when lead-off man Tony Hill beat out a high throw from Medley to first. Hill then stole second and scored on a Grayson Wiggins RBI single.
    Lee County came back to tie the game in the top of the third after Ryan Tatum drew a two-out walk. Brock Bailey then scorched a double to right to tie the game at one.
    The Blue Devils recaptured their one-run advantage in the bottom of the inning when Hill reached on a fielder’s choice. Hill stole second before Wiggins drove him to third with a single. Wiggins battled nine Medley pitches before finally fighting one off for a hit. Josh Ware would score Hill on a fly out to right for a 2-1 lead.
    Hill finished the game 1-for-2 with two runs and two stolen bases. Wiggins was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Connell was 2-for-3 with a homerun and RBI.
    Bailey was 1-for-3 with an RBI for LCHS as was Glover. Medley took the loss, allowing three runs and striking out three.
    “That’s the type of game that’s going to make our program better and possibly gives us an opportunity to one day play for a state championship,” said Bishop.
    Statesboro will be back on the diamond Tuesday, travelling to Benedictine for a 4 p.m. first pitch.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9408.

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