Fans who showed up to Southeast Bulloch Friday night didn’t quite get the 2-1 thriller they saw against Screven County on Wednesday.
As a matter of fact, the only thing thrilling about the game against Savannah was betting on if Savannah was ever going to get a hit — let alone a base runner.
Friday’s 14-0 run ruling over did give fans a preview of what it’s like to play baseball in region 3-3A. Take if from the Yellow Jacket softball team, who ran through the region 14-0 with a run differential of +200, a team can get complacent very quickly playing teams the caliber of Savannah’s.
Head coach Brandon Peterson knows this and admits it’s tough keeping his players hungry despite a weak region slate.
“We schedule some good non-region teams scheduled, just so we don’t have to play three of these kinds of games a week,” Peterson said. “It’s really challenging. It’s difficult to go from 50 to 85 on the mound game-to-game.”
Not a single team playing in this year’s region 3-3A had a winning record last season, paralleling what softball saw this year enroute to their region championship and an elite eight appearance.
If anything, this projects well for the baseball team — which hasn’t won the region title outright since 1980.
“Islands and Jenkins are good teams, and they should put up the best fights in our region,” Peterson said. “We can’t take anything for granted. If we’re worthy, I think we’ve got a shot at it.”
The thrills only came when SEB was in the batter's box, because only three Savannah hitters would find the base safely — two by walks and one error in the top of the third inning. Savannah swung and missed at 31 percent of the pitches they saw, leading to seven strikeouts by the Yellow Jacket staff.
The top of the third proved to be the closest thing Savannah would come to sniffing a run. With new pitcher Dylan Raurks in the game to replace the original starter Michael Rigdon — Raurks would struggle out of the gates to find the strike zone.
Joshees Britten worked a full count against Raurks before drawing a leadoff walk, then Josh Oliver would walk on four straight pitches — not even needing to pick the bat off his shoulder to take his free base.
Now with Savannah threatening with two runners on, Keith Bryast would hit a 1-0 pitch to second base the throw would be too wide of the bag — causing Tyler DeLoach’s feet to slip off the bag for an error to load the bases with one out.
Raurks would straighten up by striking out the next two batters to end the inning and the Savannah threat — which by their standards would have only come by another walk. Either way, Peterson said that’s never a position one of his teams should be in against a caliber of opponent like Savannah.
“He struggled with command a little bit early,” Peterson said. “Mentally it’s a challenge when there’s an adrenaline difference between a 13-0 game and a 8-7 game. But he settled in.”
The 14 runs SEB would score Friday night came off ten hits and eight walks, with 12 Yellow Jackets reaching base safely at least once. Blaize Minick would the lead the offensive charge with three hits, a double and four RBI. Cole Mincey, Joe Ham, Tyler Thorton and Toby Williams each had two RBI.
Rigdon’s first two innings were perfect — allowing no baserunners while striking out four batters.
Southeast Bulloch (3-2) will take the weekend off before taking the mound again, which will come Tuesday against Jenkins in Brooklet at 5:00 p.m.