Bears win Region 1-AAA title with sweep of Brantley County | Sports

Pierce County wrapped up the regular season with a three-game sweep of Brantley County clinching the outright No. 1 seed from Region 1-AAA.

The Bears (23-2 overall, 11-1 region), ranked first by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and MaxPreps, head into the playoffs riding a five-game winning streak. They followed a 14-7 home win Tuesday, April 19 in Game 1 with a 7-3 series clinching victory Thursday, April 21 in Caney Bay.

PCHS finished off the series with a 13-1 “mercy rule” victory at home Friday night, April 22 in five innings.

The best-of-three state playoffs are scheduled to begin with a doubleheader Friday, April 29 with the “if” game Saturday, April 30.

Pierce County will host the Region 3 fourth-seed, Johnson-Savannah with a doubleheader scheduled for Friday, April 29. An “if” game would take place Saturday afternoon.

The Herons will travel to Brooklet to face Region 3 champion Southeast Bulloch (15-9). Appling County (15-7) will host third seed Windsor Forest with ninth-ranked Long County (18-7) traveling to runnerup Liberty County (16-13-1).

PCHS scored seven runs in the second inning and pulled away with a four-run sixth to take the opening game of the series.

Brantley County scored three runs in the first inning capped by a Nathan Willis (2-for-3) two-run blast to left-center, the first of his career.

Brody Yeomans (1-for-4) and Avery Saunds (1-for-4) greeted Bears’ starter Cole Royer (4+ IP, 7 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP) with consecutive singles to start the game. A two-out double steal and throwing error to third allowed Yeomans to trot home. Willis launched an 0-1 Royer offering for a 3-0 lead.

The Bears responded with threes after two outs and nobody on base in roughing up Aiden Adams (1+ IP, 9 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 0 K, 2 BB). Twelve of the final 13 batters the right-hander faced reached base.

Knox Bennett’s (2-for-4) two-out double kept the first inning alive. After a single by Mason Woodcock (2-for-4), Royer (1-for-3) helped himself with a run-scoring single. A walk to Collin Jarrell (1-for-2) was followed by Pittman’s (2-for-3) two-run double tying the score at 3-apiece.

The first eight PCHS batters reached in the bottom of the second with six scoring extending the lead to 9-3. Brandon Pittman’s (-for-2) leadoff infield hit was followed by Davis Green’s (1-for-4) run-scoring double giving the Bears the lead for good at 4-3.

Green scored on a three-base error on a ball hit by Brett Tuten, who scored one pitch later on a passed ball for a 6-3 lead. Bennett and Woodcock lined consecutive singles ahead of a walk to Royer loading the bases. Jarrell followed with a run-scoring hit chasing Adams.

Jacob Pittman served up Talyn Coger’s (3.1 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 K, 1 BB, 5 HBP) first pitch to left scoring two runs. Brandon Pittman’s one-out, sacrifice fly capped the inning.

The Herons would score the next four runs over the fourth and fifth innings against Royer to cut the deficit to 10-7.

BCHS loaded the bases in the fourth on a one-out error on a ball hit by Kyle Wood, a walk to Hunter Johns and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Colt Thrift. Yeomans’ ensuing grounder plated Wood for a 10-4 deficit.

The first four batters reached in the fifth ending Royer’s afternoon as the Herons pulled to within three runs. Austin Nipper (1-for-3) drew a leadoff walk and raced to third on a Tripp Hendrix (1-for-4) double to right-center. Willis followed with a run-scoring single putting runners on the corners.

After Willis stole second, a passed ball plated Hendrix with Willis racing home on Coger’s (1-for-2) bloop single to left slicing the lead to 10-7. Brandon Pittman came in to shut the door with three innings of hitless relief getting a doubleplay and a flyout to end the fifth.

Pierce County answered with a four-run fifth. Green opened the inning reaching on a two-base error moving to third on a passed ball. After Tuten was hit by a pitch and stole second ahead of Bennett’s sacrifice fly.

Woodcock was hit by a one-out pitch to put runners on the corners. Tuten raced home on a passed ball for a 11-7 lead. After Royer and Jarrell were hit by pitches loading the bases, pinch-hitter Caden McGatha followed with a bloop two-run single off reliever Cam Hickox’s (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 2 BB) 0-2 pitch. Jones Herrin ended the scoring with a one-out, sacrifice fly.

A four-run second inning proved to be just enough of lead as Pierce County clinched the series beating the Herons.

The Bears took advantage of two Brantley County errors in the second. Woodcock (4-for-4) lined a leadoff single off Hendrix (6 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 7 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP), moved to second when Jarrell’s ensuing grounder was bobbled, and scored when Jacob Pittman’s (1-for-4) sacrifice bunt was thrown away for a two-base error putting runners at second and third.

Jarrell’s courtesy runner Caden Williams beat the throw home on Herrin’s fielder’s choice grounder for a 2-0 lead. Green’s (2-for-3) one-out bunt up the first base line scored Pittman with Tuten (1-for-4) driving the ensuing pitch for a run-scoring single and a four-run advantage.

PCHS padded its lead with a two-run third inning extending the lead to 6-0. Woodcock led off with a single and raced to third when Jarrell’s grounder scooted into right field. Jacob Pittman followed with a single scoring Woodcock. After Brandon Pittman drew a one-out walk loading the bases, Green lifted a sacrifice fly to center for the second run.

Brantley County broke through in the fourth against Tuten (6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB) after stranding three base runners over the first three innings.

Hendrix (1-for-3) lined an 0-2 offering for an opposite single and scored from first on a Willis (1-for-3) base hit. A two-out, infield hit by Mason Thomas (2-for-3) kept the inning alive. Thrift’s ensuing grounder was misplayed allowing Willis to score cutting the lead to 6-2.

Pierce County tacked on a run in the top of the sixth inning for a five-run advantage. Bennett was hit by a one-out Hendrix pitch, advanced to second on Hoke Skipper’s (1-for-4) single, stole third, and scored on Woodcock’s bloop single to right.

The Herons pushed home a run in the bottom of the seventh against Bennett scoring on a balk. Saunds (2-for-4) reached on a one-out error. Two-out walks to Hendrix and Willis loaded the bases with the balk allowing Saunds to score.

PCHS broke open a 1-all tie with a 12-run fourth inning to finish the three-game sweep of Brantley County.

The Bears scored a single run in the bottom of the second against Willis (3.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP). Jarrell (1-for-2) and Jacob Pittman (1-for-2) laced leadoff hits. Jarrell was retired at third on Herrin’s (1-for-2) sacrifice bunt attempt.

Nipper gunned down Pittman at third on a double steal attempt with Herrin swiping second. Brandon Pittman’s (2-for-2) ensuing single scored Herrin for the 1-0 lead.

The Herons tied the score at 1-apiece in the third inning against Pittman (3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB) after Herrin (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 HB) tossed two scoreless innings.

Thrift (1-for-2) led off the inning with a single to left. He was thrown out at third base on a one-out single by Saunds (1-for-3), who advanced to third. Nipper (1-for-2) followed with a run-scoring single to even the score at 1-apiece.

Pierce County broke the game open in the fourth sending 16 batters to the plate accumulating six hits, drawing four walks, and capitalizing on two errors.

Green (2-for-4) drove home the first run, Skipper (3-for-4; 5 ribbies in inning) plated three runs with a bases clearing triple and knocked in two more runs with a two-run single, Woodcock (1-for-2) had a run-scoring single, Herrin (1-for-2) supplied a two-run double, Bennett (2-for-2) had a run-scoring single, and two runs scored on an error.

By Harriet