Pierce County Middle School captured the Southeast Georgia Middle School Athletic Conference baseball title with a 4-2 win over Appling County Middle School.
The second-seed Bears overcame a 2-0 deficit with a four-run rally in the sixth inning to claim its first conference title since 2008 and the fourth in the program’s history. PCHS had finished as the runner-up three times (2009, 2011, 2014) since its last championship.
“This was a great game for our guys,” said head coach Cole Walsh. “Jaden (Crews) came through with the go-ahead hit in the sixth inning. We (coaches) are very proud of what this team was able to do this season. We started the year off slow, but came on strong in the end.
“The guys definitely put in the work to get better. We came into the playoffs playing our best ball of the season. This was the true definition of a team victory.”
Appling Middle 2
Pierce Middle, which had been shut down through the first five innings, had the first five batters reach in the bottom of the sixth to ignite the four-run rally and winning on just three hits.
Luke Echols (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB) pitched a masterful game for the Bears with the route going performance needing 97 pitches. Appling Middle helped him out with 14 batters seeing two pitches or less.
The Rams scored a run in the first and another in the sixth in taking a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Avery Jernigan got things started with a leadoff walk. Gage Pippen (1-for-3) followed with a single with Andrew Walsh drawing a walk to load the bases. Dawson Yarbrough drew a walk forcing home pinch-runner J. Reid Phillips to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
Crews (1-for-3) followed with a two-run single scoring Pippen and Walsh giving the Bears the lead for good at 3-2. Following the first out, Knox Bennett hit into a run-scoring fielder’s choice for some insurance.
Echols needed just 10 pitches in the seventh to shut down the Rams and finish off the complete game.
Bacon Middle 3
Pierce Middle broke a 2-all tie in the bottom of the second with a two-run rally en route to the win.
The Bears added a run in the third, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth in building an eight-run cushion.
Four BCMS pitchers surrendered 15 hits while the Red Raiders managed just four hits. Drake Miles led Bacon Middle with two hits. Trey Thomas and Nathan White recorded a hit each.
The Bears scored twice in the first against Drew Elrod (2+ IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 K, 2 BB) on a one-out, two-run single by Walsh (2-for-4). BCMS escaped further damage with an inning-ending doubleplay grounder with the bases loaded.
The Red Raiders evened the at 2-apiece in the top of the second against Walsh (6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 9 K, 7 BB, 1 HBP), who threw 132 pitches. The PCMS left-hander walked the first four batters of the second inning forcing home the first run with Elrod getting credit for an RBI. An error on a ball hit by Bennett Arney plated the second run. Walsh escaped with a pair of pop ups to get out of the jam.
Pierce Middle took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Todd Carter (2-for-4) lined a run-scoring single and would eventually come around to score giving the Bears a 4-2 lead.
Austin Jernigan (4-for-4, career-high five RBI) hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third scoring Crews (1-for-3) for a 5-2 lead against Arney (2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 K, 2 BB).
Jernigan delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning to extend the margin to 7-2.
Spencer Hughes (3-for-3) doubled home a run in the sixth with Jernigan following three batters later with a two-run double to cap the three-run uprising.
BCMS scored its final run in the top of the seventh. Miles laced a one-out double that was followed by consecutive two-out walks to Caleb Houston and Thomas. An infield single by White scored Miles and chased Walsh. Carter came on to get the final out with a strikeout.