The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets won the region last year, and advanced to the state quarterfinals. The Jackets are only four games into the season, but have quickly put themselves into a hole as they dropped a 3-1 decision to Islands in extra innings Thursday falling to 1-3 on the season, and more importantly 0-2 in region play.
The Jackets had multiple opportunities to score, but ended up stranding 10 runners, including leaving the bases loaded on two occasions.
Islands was able to plate two runs in the top of the eighth on a two-run single to center by Bryce Hinson. The Jackets then went down in order in the bottom of the inning, ending the game.
“We just need to do a better job at the plate,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Brandon Peterson. “We had plenty of chances, when you get those runners in scoring position you have to be able to get them home. It’s a game in which one or two hits could have made this a different story.”
While the Jackets struggled to score runs, they were able to stay in the game do to some solid pitching. Starter Blaize Minick limited the Sharks to one hit and one unearned run over five innings of work. Minick also had nine strikeouts. Michael Rigdon looked sharp in relief, scattering four singles over three innings, with four strikeouts.
“Our pitchers did a great job out there tonight,” Peterson said. “We can’t ask for much more than what they gave us tonight. They kept us in the game and did a great job.”
The first inning proved costly for Southeast Bulloch.
The Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with no outs but were unable to score a run. Tyler Deloach lined out to first baseman Cameron Tomlin, who then tagged the bag to get Dylan Ruarks out for out number two. Peyton Carr then popped up to center to end the inning.
The Sharks manufactured the first run of the game in the third. Dalton Singletary reached on a walk, then advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt. Ryan Arnold was able to bunt him to third on a sacrifice, and Singletary then scored on a wild pitch, as Islands grabbed a 1-0 lead.
The Yellow Jackets scored in similar fashion in the bottom of the fourth. Peyton Carr led off with a single, he’d advance to third on a wild pickoff attempt, and then came home to score on a deep sacrifice fly to center by Minick tying the game at 1-1.
The Jackets avoided a jam in the top of the seventh with some good defense and pitching. Lucas Crecy led off with a single. Langston Lewis then came in to pinch run, and was quickly gunned down by Southeast Bulloch catcher Tucker Czech. Kole Strong would later walk, and then Blaize Minick made a diving grab at second, and doubled off Strong at first.
“Every region game counts the same,” Peterson said. “We are not happy with the way things went in these first two games, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. We have to turn the page and get ready for the next one.”
The Jackets got a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh by Logan Herring. Southeast Bulloch was eventually able to load the bases, but were unable to take advantage as Carr struck out for the third out.
Next up for Southeast Bulloch it’s back to region play Monday, as they host Beach in a double header starting at 4:30 p.m.