Fourth-ranked Pierce County picked up a pair of Region 1-AAA wins to maintain its standing atop the standings. PCHS (17-3 overall, 13-1region) steadily pulled away from visiting Brantley County last Wednesday for a 13-5 victory. The game was originally scheduled for Caney Bay a day earlier before rain forced the postponement and a change in venues.
“You just throw out the records when we play Brantley County,” said PCHS head coach Greg Gay. “This is a good, intense rivalry and anytime we can beat them (Herons) that’s good.” The Bears rallied from two runs down and held off Tattnall County Friday night to win 5-4.
PCHS played at Brantley County Monday night and hosted Johnson-Savannah on Tuesday. Appling County is schedule to come to town Friday night at 6 p.m.
No. 4 PCHS 13, Brantley Co. 5
A six-run second inning helped the Bears open up some breathing room. “We just had a good team approach at the plate,” Gay said. “It was a good night offensively for us. I just hate that we gave up five runs because runs allowed is one of the tie-breakers for our region. It was nice, though, to score 13.”
The Bears scored a run in the first against Brantley lefty starter Jordan Melton. Zack Goble (1-for-3) ripped a one-out single and moved up on a single by Kyler Allen (4-for-4). After Dakota Martin walked on four pitches to load the bases, Ganon Graham lofted the first of his two sacrifice flies to score Goble. The Herons responded in the second against Stetson Smith (4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 K, 1 BB) tying the score.
PCHS took charge of the game in the bottom of the second opening up a 7-1 advantage. Logan Paul (3-for-4) and Caleb Turner (1-for-4) poked back-to-back singles to start the inning. Three consecutive walks forced in two runs. Allen jumped on a 1-1 pitch hitting the ball to the base of the centerfield fence scoring two more as Pierce jumped to a 5-1 lead. Martin and Graham followed with consecutive sacrifice flies for the final two runs of the inning.
“The turning point was when Kyler hit the ball over the centerfielder’s head,” Gay said. “Kyler is really swinging the bat well right now. Gannon had a couple of big at bats and when Logan is swinging with a lot of confidence he can do some damage.” Brantley County got one run back in the top of the third cutting the margin to 7-2.
PCHS matched the run in the bottom of the third. Paul singled to start the inning, stole second and third and scored on Stetson Bennett’s (1-for-2) sacrifice fly. The Herons plated another run in the fourth against Smith to pull to within 8-3. “Stetson did a good job working off his changeup,” said Gay. “He spotted his fastball against a very good fastball hitting team that has a lot more power than we do.”
Pierce put the game away with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Paul’s two-out, two-run double was the big blow helping the Bears extend the lead to 11-3. Brantley County plated its final two runs in the top of the fifth as the PCHS relief corps struggled. Graham and Turner only got one out in the five batters they faced with two runs scoring.
Martin (2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 1 BB) came on to get the final two outs after walking his first batter to load the bases. Martin retired eight of the 10 batters he faced. “Dakota just came in a shut the door,” said Gay. “The other two pitchers struggled and Dakota threw the ball pretty dang good.”
PCHS tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on a run-scoring bloop single by Allen and a four-pitch bases loaded walk to Graham forcing home a run.
No. 4 PCHS 5, Tattnall Co. 4
Martin allowed one run on two hits in six innings of relief as Pierce posted a come-from behind win over the Warriors. Graham’s run-scoring double in the third inning broke a 3-all tie giving PCHS the lead for good. “We stunk it up defensively,” said Gay. “We had a lot of mental mistakes as well, but we committed five errors and gave up one earned run. “I can’t say enough about the way Dakota came in and just shut the door for six innings. That was huge.”
Tattnall scored its first unearned run in the top of the first against Goble (1+ IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 HBP). A one out single, a wild pitch and a two-out error allowed the Warriors to take a 1-0 lead. PCHS, as it has in nearly every game this year, answered in the bottom of the inning thanks to some shabby defense by the Warriors. Goble (1-for-2) laced a one-out single before back to back errors allowed courtesy runner Blaine Paul to score the tying run.
Tattnall County scored twice in the second chasing Goble after scoring once and loading the bases with nobody out. Martin (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP) surrendered a run-scoring hit to his first batter before settling down to retire the next three to keep the score at 3-1.
“Zack had a really tough outing,” said Gay. “His velocity was down from that of his first two starts and he didn’t have his slider. He didn’t want to come out and I love that competitive spirit about him.”
PCHS responded in the bottom of the frame with two runs to tie the game at 3-apiece. Madison Tuten (2-for-4) opened the inning with a single and Paul was hit by a pitch. Turner (2-for-2) delivered a one-out, run-scoring single and Smith (1-for-3) added a two-out, run-scoring single to even the score.
The Bears took the lead for good in the third chasing Tattnall County’s ace right-hander. Martin (1-for-3) lined a leadoff single and raced around the bases scoring on Graham’s (1-for-4) double. Tuten followed three pitches later with a run-scoring double giving PCHS at 5-3 advantage. “Madison hit the ball well,” Gay said. “We try to get his bat in the lineup when we face right-handers and tonight he came through.
“Overall, I thought the team had some really good approaches at the plate and we were able to get their (Warriors) ace off the mound in the third inning. We had some very competitive at bats and we were scrappy at the plate. It has been a while since I could say that.”
Tattnall County scored its final run in the top of the fourth. A leadoff walk came home to roost on an error. Martin allowed just two base runners over the final three innings. The Warriors got the tying run on to start the seventh with Martin setting down the final three batters on six pitches.
PCHS missed a couple of scoring opportunities in both the fifth and sixth innings stranding runners at second and third. The first came with two outs and the second came with one out. A fly ball ended the fifth inning and back-to-back groundouts killed the rally in the sixth.