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Jackets get revenge on Gamecocks

    BROOKLET — Fisher Strickland was 1-for-3 with two RBI and pitched a complete game as the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets avenged a 12-1 loss earlier in the season to region rival Screven County (9-7, 5-3 Region 3-AA) with an 8-4 win on Tuesday night.
    “This is a major win,” said SEB coach Stephen Hoyle. “We are going through the region the second time around. Screven beat us 12-1 the first time, so psychologically it is a huge win for our guys.”
    It was all Southeast Bulloch as the Yellow Jackets (8-6, 3-4 Region 3-AA) jumped out to an early lead in the third inning. Up 1-0 already, SEB was able to add to its advantage. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Jeremy Smith was able to drive in Casey Woodrum with a bunt single. Strickland stepped up to the plate and drove in two more with a bloop single to shallow right giving SEB a 4-0 lead. He was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw home.
    The Jackets put up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to cushion their lead. After SCHS pitcher Jack Frankhouser struck out the first two batters he faced, Strickland was able to reach on a fielding error by Gamecock second baseman Josh Sheley. After Matt Conner was hit by a pitch, Cory Ward’s two out single to right field scored two runs and gave the Jackets a 6-0 lead.
    Frankhouser also pitched a complete game in the loss, but was unable to calm the bats of the Yellow Jackets.
    “The last three innings, (Frankhouser) was himself,” said Gamecock coach Billy Pollock. “The first four innings, he was not. I don’t know what got into him today, but he was just being too careful instead of challenging hitters like I like him to.”
    Screven finally got things going in the sixth inning when, with no outs and runners on the corners, Tyler McBride ripped a single into right field and cut the Jacket lead to 6-1. Southeast Bulloch was able to nail pinch-runner Walker Stuart as he tried to advance to third on the throw home. The out would prove to be a big one when Gamecock first baseman Jeremy Rosier crushed a two-out line drive over the fence in right center. What could have been a three-run homer only got two across the plate, but the Southeast Bulloch lead was still cut down to 6-3. Strickland was able to get out of the inning when he forced W.D. Smith to pop out in foul territory.
    The Yellow Jackets responded immediately in the bottom of the inning when Matt Conner drove in two more with his first hit of the game and gave SEB an 8-3 lead.
    “We got a lot of runners on base,” said Hoyle. “We put the ball in play and once the kids got on base, they made things happen. We laid down some bunts and scored some runs – I think we frustrated their pitcher a little bit… Then we got the big hit from Matt Conner in the last inning to give us some cushion and that was huge.”
    Screven tried one more time to get something going in the top of a controversial seventh inning. With two on and two out, Gamecock catcher Garrett Bates slapped a single past diving SEB third baseman Dustin Stall. Akeem Badger rounded third and tried to score, but Conner was able to easily nail him at home from left field. Yellow Jacket players and fans began to celebrate, but the game was not over yet. Stall was called for interference when he dove for the ball in the baseline, so the run was counted and play continued. Southeast Bulloch did not let the call phase them, and Strickland got the last out of the game when he forced McBride to ground to SEB shortstop David McCarthy who fielded it and got the force out at second. This time, the game was officially over and Strickland got the win.
    “Fisher did a great job,” said Hoyle. “That was the first time we got a complete game out of him. He kept his pitch count real low – I don’t think he hit over 80 pitches… He did a great job of throwing strikes, keeping the ball around the plate and getting us a lot of ground balls. The defense made the plays when they were supposed to.”
    The Yellow Jackets hope to build on the momentum of the SCHS win as they return to the diamond to take on Bryan County on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Brooklet. Screven County will host Emanuel County Institute the same day at 5:30 p.m.

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

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