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A pitchers duel
SEB, MHS combine for 22 strikeouts in 2-0 Tiger win
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Southeast Bulloch pitcher Fisher Strickland hurls a pitch across the plate during Tuesday's game against Metter. Strickland fanned 14 batters in a losing effort. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    BROOKLET — The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets and the Metter Tigers ended region play in a pitchers’ duel Tuesday night at SEB with both pitchers going the distance and combining for 22 strikeouts. MHS senior Josh Vining got the complete-game five-hit shutout, striking out eight as the Tigers (17-9, 12-2 Region 3-AA) knocked off SEB 2-0 in Brooklet.
    Vining picked up steam as the game progressed, setting the Yellow Jackets down 1-2-3 twice in the last four innings and recording seven of his eight strikeouts in that period. He also helped himself out with a fourth-inning two-out RBI double that left a cloud of chalk down the third-base line and scored Derek Lindsey, who tripled to start the inning.
    “Any time (Vining) goes out we’ve got a good chance to win,” said Tiger coach Don Mims. “He’s our go-to guy… He’s also our leading hitter. He does a great job for us.”
    The best Southeast Bulloch scoring opportunity happened in the bottom of the first. After starting off the game by shutting down MHS 1-2-3, Jacket left fielder Matt Conner reached base on a fielding error with two outs. Two stolen bases put Conner on third and a Ryan Burroughs walk put runners on the corners. Burroughs attempted to steal second, but rather than throwing down to second to nail him, Tiger catcher Jamie Roberts winged it back to Vining, who was able to pick Conner off at third and end the threat.
    Every time SEB seemed to have something going, Metter quickly put a stop to it. Twice, with a man on first and one out, Vining forced sharp come-backers that he snagged out of the air and nailed the runner at first before he could tag for an inning-ending double play.
    “I thought we put the wood on it pretty good a couple times,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Stephen Hoyle. “We had a couple of hit and runs on that went right back to the pitcher. You hit that two feet one way, two feet the other, we got first and third right there. You got a rally going. If we get that break one side or the other… I have a good feeling we could have put a little pressure on them.”
    Although senior SEB pitcher Fisher Strickland got the loss, he was stellar in his final home performance as a Yellow Jacket. He struck out 14 batters over his seven innings of work and threw 95 pitches while setting the Tigers down in order three times and allowing six hits. He also accounted for one of the five SEB hits.
    The Jackets’ season will come to a close Friday when they visit Calvary Day for a 4:30 p.m. game in Savannah. The Tigers are looking ahead to the playoffs.
    “We got on a winning streak once,” said Mims. “Then we hit another little snag their during our spring holidays and lost a couple of games.
    “Now we’ve got a winning streak going again. We wanted that going into the playoffs. Maybe that’ll carry us a little bit. Of course that region is tough, so whoever we get. It’s going to be a tough battle.”