BROOKLET — Screven County and Southeast Bulloch exploded for 12 runs over the first two innings, but when the dust settled Tuesday evening, it was Screven that walked away with a 10-7 victory and a sub-region championship.
The Gamecocks (9-10, 7-1 Region 3-AA) scored four runs in the top of the first and — despite several SEB rallies — never trailed as they handed the Yellow Jackets (15-5, 6-2) just their second region loss of the season and snatched the sub-region crown away from their longtime rivals.
“This one was big,” said Screven coach Billy Pollock of the win. “It was a total team effort and we did all of the little things right.”
Tied at 6-6 in the third inning Screven took the lead for good when Jonathan Long smashed a single off the glove of SEB first baseman Seth Morgan and Bailey Pollock raced home from second base.
“That was a great hustle play,” said Pollock. “Bailey is a little banged up, but we had to have that. It really got us going.”
J.D. Smith began the first inning well enough for SEB, retiring the first two Screven batters of the game. But trouble quickly mounted as two errors and two walks allowed the Gamecocks to push across a run for a 1-0 lead. Page then got Cameron Martin to a two-strike count, but Martin drilled a fastball into the right field gap, clearing the bases and making it a 4-0 Screven advantage.
Undaunted, the Yellow Jackets came right back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first.
Eli Page led off against Gamecock starter Blake Evans with a single and advanced to third on a throwing error on what could have been a 6-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Taylor Burroughs. Tyler Epps singled home Page before a Morgan double brought in Burroughs.
Blake Fulmer brought in Epps with an RBI groundout and Morgan raced home to tie the score on a wild pitch from Evans.
In the second inning, Jonathan Long led off with a single and stole second before scoring on a pair of grounders. An error hurt SEB again as Austin Peel reached second when Tyler Brown dropped a fly ball and Duane Heindel tripled him home for a 6-4 lead.
The Jackets rallied to tie again in the bottom half on an RBI double by Epps and a sacrifice fly from Morgan.
“We knew this one would be tough,” said Pollock. “SEB is a really good team with some good bats. We knew that they would fight all the way, but we made enough plays to win it.”
After taking an 8-6 lead in the third, Evans settled down and retired 12 of the next 16 Jacket batters.
Screven tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the fourth via two more SEB errors.
Evans departed after the first two SEB batters reached in the seventh inning, but Long came on to slam the door, retiring all three batters he faced.
With the win, Screven advances to host East Laurens in a best-of-three series beginning Saturday. SEB will host either Bleckley County or Dublin. The winner of each series will clinch a spot in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.