The third-ranked Pierce County Bears swept visiting Jenkins of Savannah in Friday’s Region 1-AAA playoff tournament.
PCHS (19-5), which has won six of its last seven games, beat the Region 1-AAA East third-seed Warriors 3-2 in Game 1 and followed that up with a 10-2 victory in Game 2 on a cold, wet night.
The doubleheader sweep came after the Bears dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Appling County in what amounted to the Region 1-AAA West championship game. The Pirates, who blanked fourth-seed Savannah High 14-0 and 15-0, will face East sub-region champion Southeast Bulloch in a one-game region championship. SEB swept fourth-seed Tattnall County.
With the Yellow Jackets holding serve, PCHS will begin the Class AAA playoffs on the road for the first time in 11 years. The Bears will be the No. 3 seed.
Region 4, the pairing partner for Region 1 in the first round, has three of the top five teams in the Top 10 poll. Defending champion Blessed Trinity is No. 1, Westminister is No. 4 and Decatur is No. 5. The trio are expected to finish in that order in the region standings with the Bears playing at Westminister in the first round.
Appling County 1 - No. 3 Bears 0
A one-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth inning provided the only run of the game as Appling County captured a 1-0 victory against third-ranked Pierce County.
The win by the Pirates clinched the Region 1-AAA West sub-region crown. PCHS (17-5 overall, 7-3 sub-region) can finish no higher than third in the region seeding tournament and will open the Class AAA state playoffs on the road.
Appling County’s victory completed a season sweep of the series. The Pirates won the first meeting 4-1 on March 28 in Bearville.
Cody Williams (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 9 K, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 1 WP) was the tough luck loser for PCHS in his matchup with Pirates’ ace Mason Parker (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 9 K, 4 BB).
Williams lost his no-hit bid with a two-out single in the fourth. The only other hit drove in the only run of the game in the sixth. Appling County’s Casey Griffin drew a leadoff walk to start the sixth. Following a sacrifice bunt, Micah Rentz, who had both Pirates’ hits, drove an 0-1 pitch into right field plating pinch-runner Tyler Adams.
Parker, who threw a complete game in the first meeting between the two teams, escaped first inning trouble that included three walks. An inning-ending double play got him out of trouble in the third.
The Bears’ lone hit came with one out in the fourth when Klay Allen lined a 2-2 pitch to right-center for a single. Parker retired the final 11 batters with only two balls leaving the infield.
Region Playoffs - Game 1
No. 3 Bears 3 - Jenkins 2
A three-run first inning proved to be the difference as the Bears captured the series opener.
Williams (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 12 K, 1 BB) hurled his second complete game of the week. He surrendered a first inning run and another in the fourth.
Jenkins got a leadoff triple on the second pitch of the game and scored four pitches later on a dropped third strike. Pierce came right back in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good.
Stetson Bennett (1-for-3) opened the Bears’ half inning with a second-pitch triple and scored on Logan Paul’s sacrifice bunt to tie the game at 1-apiece. PCHS added two runs after the second out was recorded.
Ben Tuten (2-for-4) beat out an infield hit, stole second and scored on Allen’s (1-for-3) double. Following a walk to Walker Sinclair (1-for-1), Derrin Cox (1-for-2) stroked a run-scoring single to right plating Allen for a 3-1 lead.
Jenkins cut the deficit in half in the fourth scoring the run on a fielder’s choice groundout.
After retiring nine batters in a row into the seventh inning, Williams ran into a little trouble with one out. A walk and an error put the tying run in scoring position. He was able to get the final two outs on a liner to short and a strikeout.
No. 3 Bears 10 - Jenkins 2
PCHS pulled away from a 1-all tie scoring nine unanswered runs over a four-inning stretch en route to the sweep.
Cox (4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 BB), Allen (2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 BB) and Tanner Bryant (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB) combined to pitch a three-hitter. PCHS managed just six hits for the second straight game.
The Bears scored a run in the second on a one-out groundout. Tuten (1-for-3) got the inning started reaching on an error. After stealing second, he took third on Allen’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Sinclair’s groundout.
Jenkins tied the score in the bottom half of the inning on a one-out sacrifice fly.
PCHS took the lead for good in the third inning scoring twice. Nick Golub (1-for-1) drew a one-out walk and was lifted for courtesy runner Kris Wishall. After Wishall stole second, Bennett (2-for-4) lined a run-scoring double. Following a steal of third, Bennett scored on Paul’s sacrifice bunt for a 3-1 lead.
The Bears plated two more runs in the fourth. Allen reached on a two-base error with Sinclair drawing a walk and Cox getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. Following the first out, Golub lined a two-run single to extend the lead to 5-1. Pierce would eventually strand runners at second and third.
PCHS blew the game open in the fifth with a four-run uprising. Williams (1-for-4) drilled a 3-0 pitch for a leadoff single, stole second and scored on Tuten’s single. Tuten scored on Wishall’s (1-for-2) groundout as the lead increased to 7-1. An error allowed the third run of the inning to score and a two-out bases loaded walk to Bennett forced home the final run.
The Bears added a rinal run in the top of the sixth. Pinch-hitter Walker Dixon drew a one-out walk, Allen was hit by a pitch and Wishall lined a single to right loading the bases. Blake Bishop lifted a sacrifice fly to center scoring pinch-runner Ben Baker.
Jenkins got the run back in the bottom half of the inning on a one-out single.