The Yellow Jackets of Southeast Bulloch haven’t had the start to the season they were hoping for. Just five games into the regular season, SEB held a 1-4 record and were riding a four-game losing streak.
However, around this same time last year the Yellow Jackets caught fire—winning 11 consecutive games on their way to a state playoff berth.
As they say, history tends to repeat itself and the Yellow Jackets took their first step in the right direction Friday night by defeating Islands High School 14-4 at home.
The bats for SEB started to click after starting the season averaging just over two runs a game.
“We had a little bit of a rocky start. We knew we needed to play better. To get a win on our side of the region is a great way to start,” said SEB baseball coach Brandon Peterson. “Our mindset always is the next game is the most important. We’re not looking too far ahead.”
SEB had to come from behind with Bryce Harnage on the mound for the Yellow Jackets. The Sharks strung together some quality at bats early and led Southeast Bulloch 4-1 going into the bottom of the third.
“We just had to keep playing. They scored a few runs early. [Islands] did a nice job of hitting the ball,” Peterson said. “Bryce was throwing well. They were fouling off a couple of pitches and got some runs, but our guys kept battling. We had a big inning to go ahead and we just went with that.”
Zach Owen had a big night for Southeast Bulloch. Owen went 3-for-3 from the plate with five RBIs and a walk. Klay Carter also had a perfect batting night for SEB. The speedster finished the game going 3-for-3 with one RBI. Bryce Harnage, Matt Shumate and Ty Cowart combined for six RBIs—driving in two each.
In the bottom of the third inning down 4-1, the Yellow Jackets began to mount their comeback. Owen delivered on a two-out, two RBI single to cut into the Sharks’ lead 4-3. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Shumate and Harnage had back-to-back singles to put SEB ahead 6-4. Owen would drive in another run to complete a four-run inning.
“We started the season off a little rough but I think we’re all coming together. We’re trying to work on what we need to work on,” Owen said after the game. “Everybody put the bat on the ball tonight. I thought it was really good.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Yellow Jackets began to pour it on. Carter helped drive in a run with a bases-loaded walk. Cole Mincey followed with an RBI single. The Sharks walked in three runs in the inning.
With two outs and leading 12-4 with runners in scoring position, Cowart drove in the game-winning runs on a two-RBI single to right field to defeat Islands in the fifth inning.
One facet of the game was abundantly clear in Southeast Bulloch’s run-rule victory Friday night. The Yellow Jackets have speed, and lots of it.
SEB finished the game with two bunt singles and five infield hits, including three from Carter.
“We got some guys that can go,” Peterson said. “We had a couple of fortune things with some choppers and infield hits, but that’s more of a credit to our guys hustling down the line. The couple of guys we got, they think they’re going to beat it out every time they hit the ball. That hustle and effort is really helpful.”
The Yellow Jackets will try to take their winning ways to Screven County when they face the Gamecocks Wednesday on the road. SEB defeated Screven in the first game of the season 8-4.
“We’ve got a drive. Everyone wants to win more and everyone is pretty pumped. Hopefully we can go out to the next one and put the same spanking we did on [Islands High school],” Owens said.
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.