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Jackets earn right to host region tourney
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Southeast Bulloch’s Ansley Rushing (right) goes into a slide at third base as Screven County’s Shay Patterson waits to apply the tag during Tuesday’s regular season title game in Brooklet. Rushing was safe on the play as her slide kicked the ball away from Patterson during SEB’s five-run fifth inning. The Yellow Jackets won 6-1, earning the right to host Thursday’s Region 3-AA Tournament. - photo by CHAD BISHOP/staff
    BROOKLET — The game that would determine home-field advantage for the Region 3-AA tournament was a pitcher’s duel until the fourth inning, when Jamie Bohannon broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double down the third base line that drove in Bridgett Devlin and sparked a five-run rally that put the Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets (16-4, 13-1) up for good against the visiting Screven County Lady Gamecocks in a 6-1 SEB win Tuesday.
    After coming up empty in the bottom of the first — stranding three runners after loading the bases with one out — the Jackets got on the board first with some heads-up running by Olivia Melvin in the bottom of the second.
    Melvin reached after taking a pitch to the ankle, and stole second during the next at-bat. Hannah Denmark walked on four straight balls, and after reaching second, Melvin took off for third. Melvin was safe, and when Denmark went for second, the throw sailed and Melvin was able to score.
    The Gamecocks (11-5, 10-3) evened the score in the top of the fourth when, after trying to nail Tiffanie Burns at third after a Carlie Bess Williams sacrifice bunt, the throw went wide. It was the lone error for the SEB defense. Screven committed five.
    Three hits, two walks and a SCHS fielding error contributed to the five-run bottom of the fifth for SEB.
    “We hit the ball hard, and I felt like we had an opportunity to score runs,” said Yellow Jacket coach Aimee Civalier. “Jamie got a big clutch hit. We had runners in scoring position again, and things just went our way.”
    Bohannon finished the game 2-for-3 with a sacrifice, a run and the RBI double that broke the game open for Southeast Bulloch. She would later score on an RBI single by DeAnn Lewis.
    The hit came on Senior night, in which seniors Bohannon and Lewis were honored.
    “I’m proud of both of them,” said Civalier. “This has meant a lot to them. They got all the girls fired up and ready and we were just bound and determined that we were going to come out here and play strong. They felt really confident”
    The game featured two pitchers that are arguably the strongest in the region. Yellow Jacket Megan Barnwell got the win, going the distance while striking out 11. Screven’s pitcher — freshman Marla Thompson — struck out five in 41⁄3 innings of work.
    The region tournament starts Thursday at 3 p.m. in Brooklet, and No. 1 Southeast Bulloch will take on the fourth seed, Swainsboro.
    Home field advantage is huge for the Jackets, who were swept by the Gamecocks when they hosted the 2006 tournament in Screven County. SEB has not lost a home game since the 2005 season.
    “Two seasons with no losses here — that feels good. We knew how important this win was,” Civalier said. “Now we’ve got home-field advantage for the region tournament. We’re very excited.”
    Screven will return to Brooklet to take on No. 3 Metter after the conclusion of the SEB/SHS matchup. The Gamecocks split with the Tigers during regular season play. With the region title on the line, coach Billy Pollock hopes his girls will recover from Tuesday’s error-filled performance.
    “After a game like we played today, I’m a little worried,” said Pollock. “We haven’t committed (this many) errors in the last 10 games we’ve played. All of a sudden, we get here when the pressure is on and we just implode and start playing like we’re tight. We’re going to work hard at practice tomorrow to get over this timidness.”
    Screven won the region in 2006 while hosting the tournament.

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