BROOKLET — Southeast Bulloch found itself one win away from a state semifinal berth — and up 2-0 in that potential clinching game — Wednesday evening, but it will take a win today if the Yellow Jackets want to advance to the Final Four.
SEB defeated eight-time state champion Lovett 5-3 in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, but the Lions fought back to claim a 9-6 win in the nightcap. A decisive third game will be played today at 4 p.m. in Brooklet.
The Yellow Jackets took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first of Game Two when Slade Burgin smoked a two-out, two-run triple to right.
SEB starting pitcher Tyler Deloach worked a clean bottom of the first, but his control failed him from there. Deloach issued two walks and hit a batter in the second, setting up an RBI fielder’s choice and a run-scoring single to tie the game for the Lions.
Things got worse in the third as leadoff singles for Lovett were pushed around the bases by another walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch that combined to plate four runs.
Chase Walker came home for the Jackets on a wild pitch in the fourth and Deloach helped his cause with a two-run single to make it 6-5, but that was as close as the Jackets got.
Payton Carr relieved Deloach to begin the bottom of the fourth, but he also struggled to find the strike zone, issuing walks that were exacerbated by Lion hits in key situations.
Lovett Game 2 starter Dhruv Patel had command issues of his own as he walked three Yellow Jacket batters and hit three more. Southeast Bulloch appeared to be in position to put the Lions on the ropes early in the second game, but some great defense and a few hard-hit balls that couldn't find any open space kept the Jackets from expanding their lead and kept the morale up in the visitor's dugout until the Lions were able to claim their first lead of the afternoon.
Lovett extended its lead through the middle innings and shut down an SEB rally in the sixth to force today’s winner-take-all contest.
Southeast Bulloch led all the way in Wednesday’s first game, but had to scramble at the end to finish things off.
Attempting to slam the door with a 5-1 lead in the seventh, Michael Rigdon got off to a good start as he coaxed a grounder out of Trent Beavor, but Robert Poindexter and Will Seiler both singled and a double down the left field line by Charles Gibson made it a 5-2 game.
Blaize Minick took over from there and immediately fanned Drayton Foster. Another run scored on an infield single by Peyton Ringer, but Grayson Nix lofted a harmless fly ball to right that sealed the first game for the Jackets.
Game one starter Tyler Bailey eased through the first inning for SEB and the Jackets immediately seized the lead in their first at bat. Rigdon singled off of Lovett starter Ben O’Meara, worked his way around on a single by Cole Mincey and charged home on a sacrifice fly by Tyler DeLoach.
Mincey started more trouble in the third as he led off the frame with a single and Dylan Ruarks followed suit.
Bailey cruised into the fourth inning before running into his only trouble of the day. A leadoff walk was issued to Charles Gibson and Drayton Foster took Gibson’s place at first after a fielder’s choice before Peyton Ringer blasted a double to the wall in center to make it a 3-1 game.
Bailey quickly ended the threat and the Jackets rebuilt their lead in the bottom half when Ruarks smacked a two-run double. Bailey returned to the mound to work a clean fifth inning before giving way to Rigdon and Minick over the final two innings.
The winner of today's game will advance to play either Pike County or Morgan County, which have a Game 3 of their own today.