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SHS wins region opener
SHS crop
Statesboro High shortstop Bailey Brown chases down a grounder against Bradwell Institute during the second inning of Monday's game at Mill Creek Regional Park. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff



    The Statesboro High School baseball team seems to be on a roll after a rocky 0-4 start to the season. The Blue Devils (5-4, 1-0 Region 3-AAAAA) are currently riding a five-game win streak and picked up the team’s first region victory of the season after defeating Bradwell Institute 6-4 Monday night.
    Brandon Cook went 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Connor Akins had a two-run double, going 1-for-3 on the night. Starting pitcher Blakely Brown, who picked up the win against Bradwell, helped his own cause with a sacrifice-fly in the bottom of the second.
    The Blue Devils will face one of its biggest challenges of the season as they will play 12 consecutive region games before the team’s season finale against Calvary Day.
    Thanks to a new schedule change initiated by the region’s coaches, teams will be required to play a three-game series against region opponents instead of sporadically throughout the season.
    “I love it. I think it’s great and the coaches in the region did a good job to understand that our job (as coaches) is to try to make the teams from our region as strong as possible heading into the state playoffs,” SHS coach Jim Simmons said. “We want a team from our region to head to the state championship. We’re forcing ourselves to look at everything in a three-game series, just like the playoffs.”
    The new change in scheduling is geared towards giving a competitive balance in region play against teams that may throw their ace pitcher on the mound to pick up a game in the region standings.
    “It’s going to force you to build your pitching staff around that three-game series and have a game one, game two and game three starter,” Simmons said.
    Simmons decided to throw Brown on the mound for the series opener against the Tigers (3-5, 0-4). Errors hurt the Blue Devils early, giving up two runs in the first inning. However, Statesboro battled back, scoring five unanswered runs.
    “We’re very happy to get a win. That’s a good Bradwell team, probably better than we scouted…,” Simmons said. “Blakely (Brown) did a fair job on the mound, I don’t think he had his best stuff. We got annihilated in the free-be war 14-4, walks and some miscommunication stuff...that’s what really made it much closer, but we did get some timely hits early.”
    Down 5-2, Bradwell scored a run in the fourth and fifth inning to cut the Blue Devil’s lead to just one run. However, a timely hit from Cook in the bottom of the fifth gave Statesboro an insurance run headed into the sixth inning. Griffin Davis came on the mound in the sixth and picked up a save to close the door on the Tigers’ hopes of a comeback, pitching two innings of shutout ball from the mound. He had four strikeouts and no walks in two innings of work.
    Brown pitched five innings and gave up three earned runs on three hits, walking four batters. He also recorded seven strikeouts.
    The Blue Devils will go on the road to take on the Tigers once again Wednesday. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.