BROOKLET — In a game where both starters were nearly untouchable, one pitcher had to take the offense into her own hands to earn the win.
Dawn Stewart pitched a complete game five-hitter and knocked in the game’s only run as Screven County took down Southeast Bulloch by a 1-0 count in Thursday afternoon’s Region 3-AA showdown.
“This was a real big win,” said Screven coach Billy Pollock. “Coming into today, we knew that we would be facing the best pitcher we’ve seen all year. Our girls did a good job of hanging tough, and we got just enough to win.”
The tough-luck pitcher for Southeast Bulloch (9-3, 3-1 Region 3-AA was freshman Sierra Peebles, who struck out eight and allowed just three hits while going the distance.
“We got a great pitching performance from Sierra,” said SEB coach Aimee Civalier. “We just didn’t have the hitting today.”
With both teams being held down by the stellar pitching, the Lady Gamecocks (6-6, 3-0) finally broke through in the top of the fifth inning. Courtney Burns led off the inning with a sharp single to left and Madyson Torres followed with an infield hit. As Torres beat the throw to first base, Burns advanced to third.
Looking to help her cause, Stewart squared around and sent a bunt bouncing toward the mound. Peebles took the sure out at first, allowing Burns to become the game’s only run.
“We executed that squeeze play perfectly,” said Pollock. “We had a few other opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, but SEB is a solid team, so you just have to take whatever you can get and be happy with it.”
The Gamecocks threatened in the third inning when an error, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs, but Peebles buckled down, recording two strikeouts and a soft groundout to escape the jam.
Things may have ended on a better note for the Lady Yellow Jackets if not for a pair of mishaps on the base paths.
In the bottom of the first, SEB catcher Effie Manahan laced a Stewart offering into the left field corner, but was thrown out trying to stretch her double into a triple. With the Jackets down to their final inning in the seventh, Manahan was victimized again. She narrowly missed tying the game with a liner off the top of the centerfield fence, rolling into second base. The throw from the outfield got loose and Manahan broke for third, but Screven catcher Mallorie Boswell picked up the ball and fired to third to nail Manahan.
“We got a little too aggressive trying to make things happen,” said Civalier. “Those cost us, but I’m never going to criticize being aggressive on the bases.”
Peebles tried to start another rally after the play with a single. Jasmine Roberts ran for Peebles and stole second, but Stewart coaxed two pop ups to slam the door on the Jackets.
Both teams will take the weekend off before resuming non-region play next Tuesday.
Screven County hosts South Effingham while SEB travels to Metter.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.