The Statesboro Blue Devils battled Savannah Christian as well as the elements Monday evening at Jim Simmons field at Mill Creek Park.
The Blue Devils and Red Raiders went into the fifth inning tied at 1-1 before the Blue Devil bats woke up and plated an additional three runs in taking a 4-1 decision.
“I feel like Savannah Christian looks even better than they did last year so this is a good win,” said Statesboro coach Chris Bishop. “We played solid defense throughout the game and then were able to take advantage of some things on offense. This team beat Greenbrier over the weekend so they are far from your average Calss-A school.”
With a steady light rain falling, the story of the game for the Blue Devils was the pitching performance of senior left hander Thomas Ponder who allowed only one run while striking out seven over five innings.
Savannah Christian was able to get three hits off Ponder in the first inning but managed only one run. Ponder pitched his way out of a jam and got some help from outfielder Jordan Fennell who threw out Mason Best who tried to score from third on a single to left. Ponder then got a ground out for the last out of the inning. After that Ponder only allowed two hits the next four innings.
“That is the best job Thomas has done of regaining his composure,” said Bishop. “He got out of the first inning and I explained to him they were just sitting on the fastball. I told him he had to mix in the curveball and changeup and he did a great job of executing the plan. Those same guys that were teeing off on his fastball in the first struck out later because he set them up with the breaking ball.”
The Blue Devils managed to tie the game in the bottom of the third. Landon Yates walked and then stole second. Landon Collins then drove a ball into the gap in right center. Red Raider centerfielder Ely Brown did a great job running the ball down but trapped it just after it hit the ground. Yates scored from second and the game was tied at 1-1.
Raider pitcher Josh Gates did a pretty good job keeping the Blue Devil bats in check until the bottom of the fifth. With one on Fennell drove a double to left. The Raiders intentionally walked Landon Yates to load the bases for Collins who drove a fly ball to shallow center. The ball was dropped by a back peddling Jack Stahl but ruled an out on an infield fly. Denim Fair-Mincey came home to score to make it 2-1.
Mathis Lanier provided a couple insurance runs as he singled to left plating Fennell and Yates to give Statesboro a 4-1 lead. Junior pitcher Brian Deal helped that score hold up as he pitched two innings of hitless relief with a pair of strikeouts as he earned the save.
“We haven’t been really good at manufacturing runs but we were able to come through tonight,” said Bishop. “We were able to be aggressive on the bases and that helped lead to our first run as well as our fifth inning rally. As much as I was disappointed in our effort in Friday’s loss to Southeast Bulloch, we really turned it around tonight and put forth a great effort.”
The win improves the Blue Devils' record to 3-1 on the season. Up next Statesboro travels to Evans for a Wednesday matchup with a slated first pitch time of 5:30 p.m.