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Clutch hitting lifts SHS to region win
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    Statesboro has had the defense and pitching. Friday night at Mill Creek it finally got what it’d really been looking for — the clutch hit.
    Trent Lewis was 2-for-3 with two, two-out RBIs helping the Blue Devils (11-8, 4-4) to a 4-1 win over Lakeside in Region 3-AAAA play.
    “We’ve been working on (hitting) off speed pitches,” said Lewis. “We really did a better job tonight of hitting — waiting back and hitting the ball to the right side.”
    Lewis’ second hit came with a runner on and two out in the bottom of the sixth and the Devils clinging to a 3-1 lead. Scott Sarratt walked to start the rally and was replaced by courtesy runner Brandon Wilson. Wilson then stole second before Lewis smashed a 2-1 pitch past Lakeside third baseman Tanner Hall. Wilson crossed to make the score 4-1 and that’s all SHS would need.
    Crawford Simmons came on in the top of the seventh after starter Forrest Robertson surrendered a lead-off walk. The sophomore struck out the side after allowing a walk of his own, giving the Devils a much needed region win.
    “Anytime we win it gives us confidence,” said Statesboro coach Chris Bishop. “We’re not really too concerned about who we play, when we play — we’re just going to be excited about getting there and doing the best we can and I like our chances.”
    The Devils were already assured of a road series in the region tournament opener next weekend. Friday’s win over Lakeside may be the catalyst they need to start putting it all together.
    The Panthers (11-9, 5-3) jumped on SHS early with a Zach Lawson double and a Matt Zegelwizc single to left to make the score 1-0. Statesboro answered in its half after Lewis led off the inning with a walk. Grayson Wiggins then singled to right and Josh Ware doubled to left center to score Lewis after Wiggins was caught stealing.
    Statesboro took the lead for good in the second after Carlton Hendrix drew a two-out walk. He advanced to third when starter Chris Morris’ pick-off attempt sailed down the first-base line. Sarratt walked and Lewis took an 1-1 offering into the right-field corner to make the score 2-1.
    It would be all the support Roberston needed as the senior allowed just one run in six-plus innings, striking out five and giving up seven hits.
    “I had to do what I had to do,” said Roberston, who threw 90 pitches. “I knew I couldn’t let the other players down — they were behind me. Luckily we came out on top.”
    Morris hung with Robertson despite struggling with control problems in six innings of work, and Statesboro’s third run was the only score not produced by a Morris free pass. Wiggins reached first on a bad-hop single to first with one out in the fifth. Ware then executed a perfect hit-and-run to move Wiggins to third and then Tony Hill laid down a squeeze bunt to score Wiggins.
    Lakeside had a chance to break the game open in the third after loading the bases with one out, but Hall skied Roberston’s first pitch of his at-bat to right. Hendrix threw home to nail a tagging Lawson, but Lawson slipped on the way there and first baseman Luke Connell cut the throw off, threw back to third and doubled up Lawson, ending the threat.
    Statesboro welcomes Vidalia Monday at Mill Creek for Senior Night at 5:30 p.m.