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Blue Devils blank SEB Yellow Jackets

    Early rain postponed Friday’s matchup between Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch. If the wait built up any anxiousness, the Blue Devils took it all out on their cross-county rivals with a 10-0 win Saturday evening at Mill Creek Regional Park.
    Blakely Brown worked three hitless innings while Colin Chance tossed two more and Austin Kleinlein threw a perfect sixth to combine for a no-hitter after the Blue Devils (4-0) pushed two runs across in the bottom of the sixth to end the game via mercy rule.
    “That’s the first (no-hitter) we’ve seen in a couple of years,” SHS coach Jim Simmons said. “The great thing is how our pitchers have responded early in the season. We’ve made it a point to give lots of guys scheduled innings and everyone has done their part.”
    The only real threat to break up the no-hitter came on what turned out to be the Yellow Jackets’ final at-bat of the night.
    Zach Hall got out in front of a fastball from Kleinlein and drove it towards the wall in left field. Chase Hutchins initially broke backwards before racing toward the foul line while continuing to give ground.
    Hutchins made a sliding catch to preserve the three-man pitching effort and Jackson Ware’s two-run single in the bottom of the sixth brought the game to a premature end.
    Early in the game, Southeast Bulloch (0-2) was able to go pitch for pitch with the Devils.
    Drew Rushing breezed through the first two innings for SEB before running into trouble in the third. The bottom of the SHS batting order set the table, allowing a single by Ware to plate the first of his three RBI.
    Connor Akins made it a big inning for the Devils, knocking in a pair with one of his two hits on the night.
    Keagan Carter relieved Rushing when he found more trouble in the fourth inning.
    Carter got out of the jam after allowing RBI hits to Chance and Chris Reagin.
    The Devils further stretched their lead in the fifth as Mahlon Williams drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and scored on a single flared to right by Diquan Brunson. Brunson advanced to second and scored when Tyler Epps fired high on a routine grounder to third base.
    “One of the things that stood out was that we had four innings where we scored,” Simmons said. “We want to put up runs in every inning. That’s how you put pressure on teams. Putting up some crooked numbers like we did tonight is even better.”
    Sam Cromley took the hill for the Jackets in the sixth and was greeted in much the same way as the two previous SEB pitchers.
    Cromley issued a leadoff walk, then allowed a Reagin single and hit both Hutchins and Clay Reed. Jacob Schofill scorched a line drive to left that was run down, but Ware finished the job two pitches later as he split the SEB outfield with a drive to the wall in left center to bring home the runs that forced the mercy rule into effect.
    Statesboro’s win over Southeast Bulloch — combined with a 7-3 victory over Thomson earlier in the afternoon — has the Devils off to a red-hot start.
    SHS had a busy first week of the season, but has won all four of its contests so far — including a romp over perennial power Calvary Day Tuesday evening.
    “Obviously, we’re happy with the start we’ve had,” Simmons said. “After (the win over Thomson) we told our guys that 3-0 was better than 2-1. The same holds true with being 4-0. We have a tough schedule, but that’s the mindset we want to keep all season long.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.