Baseball: Tift Wins Pitching Duel

Tifton – The Tift County Blue Devils took a while to warm up their bats in the cold evening air tonight, but once they got started, it was hard for the visitors from Pike County to recover. Playing at the Devil’s Diamond for the third time this season, Kyle Kirk’s squad got a 8-0 victory in a contest many thought might be won by a single run.

The Pirates, coached by Don Hanson, started their season tonight, sending veteran right-hander Tristin English to the mound.English is expected to wear the blue and gold of Georgia Tech next season.  Kirk sent his ace, junior Conner Thomas to do battle with the bats of Pike County, Thomas entered with a 1-0 record, having recorded the win against Houston County last Monday night.

Connor Thomas recorded his second win of the season, allowing just 3 hits in 6 innings of work, and getting 10 strikeouts in the shutout. Photo: Danielle Bundrick/SGSN

Connor Thomas recorded his second win of the season, allowing just 3 hits in 6 innings of work, and getting 10 strikeouts in the shutout. Photo: Danielle Bundrick/SGSN

After three innings of scoreless baseball, Tift got started with a one-out single by Zeke Dodson. The Senior shortstop hit the ball hard to left field, and advanced when Briggs Benson singled to move him around. With one down still, Benson stole second, and Le Bassett singled the pair home. All three hits were to left field. With a 2-0 lead, Thomas would retire the side for Pike in the top of the 5th.

The Devils would begin anew in the bottom half of the inning, starting as right fielder JP McGahee singled to center. The next man to step in the batter’s box, Tift CF Jonah Reyes drew a walk from Pike reliever Bill Clark. The Junior didn’t fare well in the frame, as he issued another walk to second baseman Ryan Ross. With the bases loaded, Dodson grabbed his bat and stepped to the plate.  Down in the count 1-2, Dodson sent the next pitch over the wall in center field. Plating the four runs, Tift went up 6-0, and the Devils weren’t done.

Clark retired Benson on a fly ball to left, but issued another walk to Bassett. Catcher Christian Avant showed patience at the plate, and went to first as Clark couldn’t throw strikes. A pass ball would move Bassett to third. Designated Hitter Sam Miller hit a deep fly ball to left center, and scored Bassett. Avant would score on the same play, the result of a throwing error.

Kirk called on Jonah Reyes to pitch in relief of Thomas in the 7th frame. The Senior would retire the Pirates in order, gathering two pop flies, and a strikeout in his inning of work. Thomas recorded his second win of the year, striking out 10, and allowing just 3 hits in six innings of work.   The loss would go to English.

Zeke Dotson finished with 4 RBIS, 2 hits and two runs scored. Avant, Miller, and Bassett each recorded an RBI.The Devils improve to 2-0, with the cancelled Ware County contest still not rescheduled.  Tift County will return to the diamond Saturday, February 21 at 4PM, facing former region foe Coffee.

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