The Statesboro Blue Devil baseball team entered this week in a four-way tie for first place in the region along with Richmond Hill, South Effingham and Glynn Academy. Monday night they had a chance for some separation as they hosted the Wildcats of Richmond Hill, but were unable to get anything going offensively as they fell 4-0 at Mill Creek Park.
The Blue Devils only had three hits in the game but had many opportunities to score as the Wildcat pitchers issued four walks and the Blue Devils left eight runners on base. The Blue Devils got a pretty solid outing on the mound by Thomas Ponder but a 2-run homer by UGA signee Leighton Finley helped seal the deal for the Wildcats.
“Their pitcher pitched a lot like the three guys we saw throw for South Effingham last week,” said Statesboro coach Chris Bishop. “He made quality pitches to our guys when we had runners on base. We pitched well and had a few mistakes in the field but overall played pretty good defensively. It was probably our worst game of the season at the plate. We weren’t as patient as we needed to be.”
The Blue Devils got out of a couple jams in the first and second inning and then had a great opportunity to start the scoring in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded Ames Rackleff sent a drive to right but Luke Boone made a diving grab to keep the game scoreless.
The Wildcats eventually started the scoring in the top of the fourth. With a runner on first Jalen Varnadoe singled to center, a miscue in center allowed the runner to come all the way home for a 1-0 Richmond Hill lead.
Finley came through in the top of the fifth as he drove a fly ball high and deep to left it looked as though Landon Yates had a chance to pull it in, but it went over the fence for the first home run at Mill Creek park this year and a 3-1 lead. Ponder was able to avoid any further damage as he struck out the last two batters with the bases loaded to allow the Blue Devils a chance to come back.
The Blue Devils put two runners on in the bottom of the seventh, but Boone was able to get out of a jam by getting Ames Rackleff to pop out and then finished the game with a strikeout. Boone and starter Hunter Legas combined to strike out seven Blue Devil batters.
The loss puts some pressure on the Blue Devils to win on the road at Richmond Hill Wednesday. The Wildcats will send Finley to the mound where he throws in the low 90’s while the Blue Devils counter with lefty Dylan Gronefeld.
“Tonight, we didn’t get it done at the plate,” said Bishop. “I feel confident we can score some runs on Wednesday the question is how will we pitch, and if we do well, we will be in the game. Dylan has been solid for us and he throws strikes.”