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Jackets sting Calvary
Nesmith hits Grand Slam
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    BROOKLET — Corey Nesmith’s grand slam in the bottom of the third inning proved to be the difference for the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets (2-1) as they knocked off the Calvary Day Cavaliers 9-6 Thursday night at the SEB preseason baseball tournament in Brooklet.
    Nesmith finished the game 2-for-2 with 4 RBIs, a stolen base and reached after being hit by a pitch.
    Matt Conner got the win for the Jackets, pitching four innings and allowing just one hit and one earned run. He struck out four Cavaliers in the span.
    “(Conner) was a bulldog out there those first four innings,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Stephen Hoyle. “It was his first start — his first outing of the year. He was throwing strikes when he needed to, putting the ball in the right spot, and he had the Calvary hitters off balance.”
    Six different SEB players crossed the plate in the win, and Justin Daniels and Tony Raymond each scored twice.
    Raymond scored his second on an RBI single by Daniels after leading off the bottom of the fourth with a triple to the fence in left-center. Daniels later scored on an RBI double by Dustin Stall that put the Jackets up 9-4. After being held scoreless since the top of the first, Calvary had scored 3 in the top of the inning to pull within two.
    Two Conner walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases for CDS with two outs in the top of the fourth, and another HBP drove in a run. Two more Cavaliers crossed the plate after Cory Ward muffed a Joey Lupus grounder.
     Calvary’s fifth run crossed the plate in the top of the fifth when Cody Padgett crossed the plate on a sacrifice bunt by Nate Hatcher. The sixth was driven in during the top of the final inning on a pinch-hit single by Jamie Bragg.
    The Yellow Jackets sealed the win in the top of the sixth. Nick Paris started things off when he roped a single into right field, and he ended up on third after a fielding error. Bragg’s hit drove him in.
After the Cavaliers cut the score to 9-6 with nobody out, SEB reliever Jordan Davis forced Bubba Green to line out to center. The game ended on a wild double play.
    Lupus struck out swinging, but when Jacket catcher Casey Woodrum (1-for-1, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 BB) dropped the third strike, Lupus took off for first, which was still occupied by Bragg. Lupus was called out for running to the occupied base, but Bragg took off for second after the dropped the pitch, and SEB was able to nail him there for the final out of the game.    
Nesmith’s grand slam was the first home run hit by a Yellow Jacket at home since their new stadium’s inception in 2007. Not only was it the difference in the score, but it gave the lefty and the rest of the Yellow Jackets a new level of confidence.
    “That was huge,” said Hoyle. “It gave Corey so much confidence right there. He’s been swinging the bat and working real hard. He changed his swing a little bit and it’s really paid off. The intensity level rose (after the grand slam) and we just steamrolled from there.”
    Southeast Bulloch returns to action for the conclusion of the tournament Saturday. They take on Savannah Country Day at 3 p.m. and Emanuel County Institute at 5.

Portal 9, Emanuel Co. Institute 7
    The Portal Panthers (1-1) got their first win of the season Thursday, knocking off Emanuel County Institute 9-7 in the Southeast Bulloch tournament in Brooklet.
    The Panthers trailed 7-6 heading into the top of the sixth, but clutch hitting by Mickey Williams brought in the tying and go-ahead runs. Williams roped a double down the third base line with the bases loaded to put the Panthers back on top.
    David Dampier, Nolan Clark, Brett Rivers, Chad Busby and Williams all had multiple hits in the contest.
    “(Beating a region team in the preseason) helps those kids’ confidence,” said PHS coach Tendai Haggins. “You hear them talking: ‘We’re going to be able to play with these guys if we play well,’ that kind of thing.”
    Portal resumes play Saturday at SEB against West Laurens at 9 a.m. then Calvary Day at 11 a.m.

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