The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets have definitely taken a big step up, not only in classification, but from a talent standpoint as well in their new region. Tuesday night was a prime example of that as the Jackets were trailing Islands 4-1 in the sixth before coming all the way back to score the winning run as Jaidyn Sherrod took off for home from third on a wild pitch to score just ahead of the tag in the eighth for a 5-4 Jacket victory.
“To battle back like we did to tie it and then win it that way incredible,” said coach Aimee Civalier. “I am proud of them for not giving up. That is a great team over there in Islands and we have a lot of tougher opponents in this region so we have to be prepared.”
The big shift in momentum came in the bottom of the sixth. Trailing 4-1 Victoria Barton came through with a one-out double to left. With first base open the Sharks decided to pitch to Jacket shortstop Delanie Thames, who came into the game with a .700 batting average and three home runs. That decision proved costly as Thames took the second pitch deep over the center field fence to cut the lead to 4-3.
“I was very surprised they pitched to Delanie in that situation,” said Civalier. “We don’t play them much so maybe he doesn’t know about her. If it was me, I’m not pitching to her I’m putting her on base. It was also a great job by Delaine to make the most of that opportunity.”
“I wasn’t as surprised that they pitched to me,” said Thames. “I was 0-3 at the time so I guess they thought I wasn’t that big of a threat. When I came up, she threw a fastball right over the plate and that did surprise me because she had been getting me with the rise ball up and away. I was thinking there’s no way she’ll do that again, and then when I saw it come out of her hand and it was the same pitch, I said she really messed up doing that again.”
The game remained 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Nelson legged out a bunt for a hit. Pitcher Marissa Waters then hit a high fly ball to deep left. The Islands leftfielder over ran the ball which dropped in and Nelson hustled all the way home from first base to tie the game at 4-4.
With the score tied 4-4 in the eighth the Jackets got a leadoff single from Sherrod. Paisely Nordoff then hit a hard shot to third which banged off the knee of the Sharks third baseman to set up runners on second and third with one out. The second pitch to Barton hit the ground and dribbled just behind the catcher. Sherrod seemed to surprise the Sharks by coming home and slid in just before the tag for the winning run as the home stands erupted in applause.
“I felt like we came out a little flat, but Islands pitcher Aaliyah Williams kept us off balance with her rise ball,” said Civalier. “We had runners in scoring position throughout the game but just didn’t come through until the end. It’s frustrating but at least we kept battling.”
The Jackets trailed 2-0 after a first inning 2-run double by Islands Sarah Shearouse. The Jackets cut the lead to 2-1 in the second on an RBI by Nordoff but stranded runners on the corners. Islands extended the lead to 3-1 as pitcher Aaliyah Williams bunted for a hit and stole second. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a fielder’s choice. The Jackets had a chance to get that run back in their half of the third as Paige Nelson led off with a bunt and advanced to third on an error. The Jackets were unable to bring her home though which is something Civalier knows they have to work on.
“We have to do a better job of getting runners in scoring position home,” said Civalier. “We can’t strike out in those situations especially in back-to-back at bats. We have to at least put the ball in play in order to give ourselves a chance to score. We were able to win this one but we will get these guys again at their place and can’t do the same things.”
The Jackets improve to 7-4 on the season and will next travel to Metter Thursday for a 5:00 start.