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Devils blast Titans before rain cancels game
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    Even though it didn’t count, the Statesboro Blue Devils (9-8, 2-4 Region 3-AAAA) exploded for eight runs in two innings against the North Oconee County Titans in a rained-out Saturday night game at J.I. Clements Stadium on the Georgia Southern campus.
    “We did all that, but we didn’t get to play a complete game so the stats don’t count,” said SHS coach Chris Bishop. “Last time we (played the Titans) we had eight (runs) right off the bat like that. We kind of shut it down, and it wound up being 9-6… I was hoping it could have lasted a little longer and we could have tried to get as much out of it as we could. But we got guys some work and we got better. We may not have gotten a ‘W,’ but we got better. That’s the main thing.”
    The thunder and lightning put a stop to the game in the top of the third inning, but not before the Devils put on an offensive clinic.
    Statesboro didn’t waste any time as leadoff hitter Trent Lewis reached second base on a walk and a steal. Designated hitter Zach Taylor drove him in with a bouncer that cleared the gap into center field, and advanced to second on the throw home. Josh Ware brought Taylor home with a liner into left-center field and was also able to take second on the attempt at the plate. A Tony Hill single and a Luke Connell walk loaded the bases for Daniel Whitt, who capped off the three-run inning with a sac-fly RBI.
    After forcing NOHS to strand two runners-in-scoring-position in the top of the second, the Blue Devil bats really lit up.
    Scott Sarratt kicked off the bottom of the second with a walk. Lewis attempted to bunt the runner to second, but after Titan catcher Tyler Baker fielded the dribbler he overthrew his first baseman and allowed both runners to wind up safe at second and third. Sarratt scored on a passed ball, and then Taylor got his second up-the-middle-RBI single of the game.
    Statesboro shortstop Grayson Wiggins stepped up to the plate and launched a two-run home run over the fence in left that gave the Devils a 7-0 lead. Ware — the next SHS batter — launched another one out to left field. This time the ball did not carry, but as it fell on the warning track it was good for a double.
    North Oconee really kept the game from getting out of hand when Ware slapped a liner down the third base line and Titan third baseman Josh Amabile took a diving stab at it and knocked it down. Shortstop Bryson Smith recovered it and flipped it back to his waiting third baseman who was able to tag Ware for the first out of the inning.
    The score became 8-0 when — later in the inning and with runners on the corners — Hill was able to score on a Whitt groundout.
    The rain started coming down in the third inning, and the thunder and lightning never subsided. It wasn’t all bad, however, for Bishop and his devils.
    “Any time we play baseball, that’s a good thing,” Bishop said. “In this situation we all honestly know that we need the rain. Our area needs the rain more than we need a win tonight.”
    Statesboro will return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Academy of Richmond County for a region matchup, and return home on Friday to take on 3-AAAA foe Lakeside at Mill Creek at 5:30 p.m.
    “After that,” said Bishop, “we still have a three game series to get to the playoffs. Everybody (in the region does), no matter if you finish first, second or third in the sub-region. We can do it — we have the pitching staff to do it. If we can get by those one-run losses, we’ll be fine.

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