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Blue Devils fall to Wayne County

            Wayne County stormed into town looking to secure the top spot in Region 2-AAAA in Statesboro’s final game of the 2010 season.

            The No. 5 ranked Yellow Jackets spoiled Senior Night for the Blue Devils, walking away with an 8-1 win Friday evening at Mill Creek Regional Park.

            “That’s a very good team that they’ve got,” said Statesboro coach Chris Bishop. “We went out there tonight and played a pretty good game. (Wayne) was just able to take advantage of a few more opportunities to get the win.”

            Those opportunities were kept to a minimum for the Devils, as Jacket starter Hunter Thompson was dominant throughout the game.

            The hard throwing right-hander surrendered two hits in the bottom of the first, but dug out of the jam. From there, Thompson settled in, going the distance while allowing just three more hits and an earned run after the outcome already had been settled.

            “We knew that going up against (Thompson) would be tough,” said Bishop. “Our guys really battled though. He was throwing pretty hard, and his change-up and curve were working, but a lot of our younger guys hung in there. We just got under too many of them and popped the ball up too much.’

            Wayne County wasted no time in getting Thompson a lead.

            In a jam with runners on first and second and with just one out in the first inning, Statesboro starter Todd Cone looked to get out of danger when he coaxed Yellow Jacket cleanup hitter Casey Kicklighter into a line out. The Devils couldn’t quite turn the double play though, and a pair of wild pitches brought Colby Dent (2-for-3, 2 RBI) around to score the game’s first run.

            The Jackets stretched their lead, adding a run in both the second and fourth innings, before pulling farther away in the fifth.

            Adrian Palmer reached on a bad-hop single to lead off the inning, and Tyler Palmer (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) took Cone’s first offering high over the fence in left center to give the Jackets a 5-0 advantage.

            As Thompson continued to silence the Statesboro bats, the Jackets kept tacking on to the lead.

            A walk and a pair of hit batters loaded the bases for Wayne County in the sixth, and the Jackets tacked on two more with an RBI groundout by Dent and on another wild pitch.

            “In all, Todd pitched well for us tonight,” said Bishop. “We just got into a little trouble and made a couple of errors that hurt. If we don’t walk or hit a few of those guys, things could have gone differently.

            Chris Lusted lifted a sacrifice fly to score Quantae Huff in the bottom of the sixth to break up the shutout, but Thompson went back to business and retired five of the final six Blue Devil batters to close out the win.

            Friday marked the final high school appearance for five Blue Devils as John Eddie Hodges, Calk Minik, Chris Oglesby, Lusted and Cone all closed out their high school careers.

            “These seniors have done great things for Statesboro baseball, and they’ll certainly be missed,” said Bishop. “This was a very diverse group of seniors. A lot of them had to overcome some obstacles in order to play baseball. That really tells you a lot about their character, and I’m sure that will lead them to success after high school.”

            With the loss, Statesboro ended its season with a mark of 10-15 (4-8 Region 2-AAAA). The Blue Devils came in sixth place in the region and finished two region wins short of a birth in the GHSA state playoffs.


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