Lee sophomore catcher Jack Bell plays hero for the Trojans on Friday night, going 2-for-4 with three RBI during a doubleheader sweep of subregion foe Thomas County Central.
LEESBURG — Lee County got clutch contributions from a couple of sophomores Friday and wrapped up the top seed in its subregion with a sweep of Thomas County Central.
Jack Bell, who was called up from the junior varsity five games ago to play catcher and DH, drove in the go-ahead run in Game 1 of a 7-6 win against the Yellow Jackets and then sophomore T.J. Roberts threw three no-hit innings in a 10-0, Game 2 win in five innings.
Thomas County Central, however, gave the opener away with five errors and finished with nine on the day, while the Trojans — winners of 10 of their last 12 — played 12 error-less frames.
“We made them earn every run they got, and they gave us several,” Lee County coach Rob Williams said.
TCC overcame a 4-1 deficit in Game 1 with four runs in the fourth to lead 5-4 against Trojans starter Jess Posey before Bell came through in the fifth with a two-run, game-changing single. The sophomore knocked in Luke Roland and Daniel Nichols after the inning was prolonged by a Yellow Jackets’ error.
“Just hit it in the gap somewhere and score some runners,” Bell said of his approach at the plate. The varsity newcomer went 2-for-4 in the doubleheader with three RBI. He has picked up the pitching signs in record fashion and looked Friday like he’s been hitting high school hurlers for years.
“Quick learner I guess,” Bell said of his quick progression. “It’s really just in the heat of the moment. I just block everything out and relax up there at the plate and do my thing.”
Lee County (14-6, 6-0 subregion 1-AAAA South) picked up a huge insurance run in the sixth when Mark Fowler was picked off first, but got in a rundown, allowing Casey Hightower to score from third after another TCC throwing error.
Nichols gave up one run in the seventh when TCC’s Lucas Wainright drove in Eric Johnson with a single, but the UGA signee, who went 1-for-5 in the doubleheader to drop his average to .509, closed the game with two strikeouts, stranding the tying run at second.
Posey picked up a gritty win in Game 1, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings.
“TCC put the bat on the ball,” said Posey, who struck out eight while throwing a season-high 104 pitches. “I felt like I was throwing the best pitches I could throw and they stuck around. That game meant a lot for both of us. They battled, but it was fun. I love playing games like that.”
Roberts, Lee County’s sophomore righty, cruised in Game 2 after throwing three innings to pick up the win, allowing no hits with one K and four walks. Roberts hadn’t pitched in a game in nearly two weeks after hurting his hamstring.
“(Roberts’) command wasn’t quite there yet, but the bottom line (is) he got three goose eggs,” Williams said.
Roberts and junior Chris Mosley combined to throw five innings of one-hit baseball to complete Friday’s sweep.
The Trojans put five runs up in the second after consecutive TCC errors in the infield. Chad Moore had an RBI single, and Fowler blew the game open with a two-run triple.
Lee County run-ruled the Yellow Jackets (8-10, 0-4 subregion 1-AAAA South) in the fifth, taking advantage of two more TCC errors on the infield. Nichols laced a RBI double to left, Bell singled in a run and Dalton Daniels’ grounder found its way threw a drawn-in infield to score the game-ending runs.
Johnson had three hits in Game 1 to lead TCC. Fowler and Andrew Stroud went 3-for-6 in the doubleheader for the Trojans, who will next face Lowndes High in Valdosta on Wednesday and then play host to Colquitt County on Friday on Senior Night.
The Trojans’ final game of the season is a makeup game April 23 against Houston County, which is on the other side of the region and ranked in the Class AAAA Top 5. That game could have region title implications, depending on how subregion 1-AAAA North shakes out.