Through a small sample size this season, it’s become clear SEB baseball is here for the thrills.
Whether it be Statesboro, Coffee County, Toombs County or Screven County Wednesday night, SEB apparently likes to keep things close. All four games have been been decided by one run, and the last two have finally come out in the Yellow Jackets.
While it certainly wasn’t the high scoring affair SEB had against Toombs on Tuesday, the 2-1 win over nearby foe Screven County felt even better considering the school’s history between each other. In head coach Brandon Peterson’s eyes, he’s just happy to be back at .500 this season.
“Tonight was outstanding for our pitchers, they carried us through,” Peterson said.
The game’s beginnings didn’t look to be one of a low-scoring affair however. A leadoff single, followed by a sac bunt and an error would see Screven have runners threatening at second and third with only one out in the top of the first. But starting pitcher Tyler Thorton would force a foul pop-out followed by a harmless grounder to second to end the inning.
SEB would follow suit in their half of the first frame when Michael Rigdon drew a leadoff walk followed by clean bunt by Cole Mincey to put two men on with no outs. Following a fly-out, both runners would advance on a groundout to shortstop to put the pair in scoring position.
However the fifth at-bat of the inning ended in a comebacker to the pitcher, who handled the hot ball with ease for a toss over to first to end the inning. Peterson said those are the moments early in the game his team needs to capitalize on.
“Unfortunately I thought we came out a little flat,” Peterson said. “It wasn’t an effort thing, we just didn’t have an edge like we normally do.”
Screven would strike first in the top of the second, after two infield errors would load the bases for Screven County with one out. Thorton would load the count for Jonathan Roberts, but leaving the payoff pitch just wide of the zone to walk the first runner home. Thorton would get out of the inning with no more damage, but the errors were to blame for the lone Screven run.
“Two of those errors our guys made the right decision but the throws just weren’t there,” Peterson said. “We’ve just got to execute better on those plays.”
SEB would answer right back in the latter half of the second. With two outs Blaize Minick hit a ball to third, which would be mishandled by Dalton Mock to give the Yellow Jackets one more chance in the frame. Thorton would then come up in the nine-hole and hit a fly ball to right centerfield, but centerfielder John William Pollock lost the ball in the light — allowing Misnick to scoot home and Thorton to take thirs standing up.
Rigdon would come up on his second plate appearance and slap an 0-1 pitch right back to centerfield to bring Thorton home. And it wasn’t coincidence Thorton was a big part of that inning, because he’d help bring the game home for the Yellow Jackets too.
After a rough first two innings, Thorton settled down in the next three. He’d allow only one more base runner and notch five strikeouts before being relieved in the sixth inning. The sophomore expects to continually play a large role for the Yellow Jackets moving forward this season.
“He had a great night, he plays hard and when you hustle around good things happen,” Peterson said. “We’re hopeful him and Bryce (Harnage) can do this well together as our starters. That will make us competitive.”
Mincey was the only Yellow Jacket with two hits, with Thorton and Rigdon claiming the only RBI. On the mound Thorton went five innings, allowed two hits, one run — unearned — one walk while striking out six batters and throwing 60 percent of his pitches for strikes.
SEB (2-2) will start region play Friday when they host Savannah at 5:00 p.m.