LEESBURG — Lee County made head coach Rob Williams’ 15th region title short and sweet.
The Trojans banged out 20 hits and got solid pitching from two of their top starters to sweep past Northside, Columbus 3-1 in the opener and 10-0 in five innings of Game 2 Friday in the Region 1-AAAA crossover series.
“That’s our goal,” Williams said of winning the region title. “It didn’t look good (after losing four in a row early in the year). We just had to control what we could control and good things may happen for us. (The players) believed in that and kept working.”
Lee, the top seed from Region 1-AAAA South, had to win Friday against the Patriots, the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAA North, to reach the playoffs and lock up the region title by virtue of Monday’s win over Houston County.
“In a sense, I guess our state playoffs started (Friday) because it was elimination,” Williams said.
The Trojans, who have won nine region titles since the turn of the century, will play Region 2-AAAA No. 4 seed Wayne County Friday at home in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
Jess Posey (6-0) threw a gem in Game 1, allowing just one run (none earned) on three hits in seven innings. Posey struck out five and also had a first-inning RBI hit.
Jack Bell added a run-scoring hit in the first inning of Game 1 to give Lee County (17-7) a 2-0 lead before Northside, Columbus (11-12) scored one in the second on two Trojans’ errors.
Luke Roland’s RBI hit in the second inning was all the scoring the Trojans would need en route to a 3-1 win behind Posey, who had been sick both days before the region playoff. Posey retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced.
“To his credit, he came to me in the fifth and said, ‘I’ve got seven (innings) tonight,’” Williams said.
As good as Posey was in Game 1, Trojans’ junior lefty Chris Mosley was just as good in Game 2, and the Lee County bats came alive.
Daniel Nichols and Andrew Stroud went back-to-back over the wall in a 5-run third inning to blow Game 2 open. Nichols went 4-for-4 in Game 2 and belted his 11th homer of the season to left field before Stroud sent one out in left-center field. Posey nearly made it three straight homers with a double off the center field wall.
“When Jess hit that ball, we thought we went back-to-back-to-back,” Nichols said. “It’s all about who’s hot, who’s not. It’s amazing how we’ve turned it on the last couple of weeks.”
Mosley (6-1) spun a shutout in five innings, allowing just three hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
“Most of the year I struggled a little bit on the mound, throwing everything high, getting hit a lot,” Mosley said. “Now I’m working my ball down a little more and getting ground balls. It’s starting to help.”
Nichols and Bell each had two RBI in the series to lead the Trojans. Pedro Cruz, Matt Mears and Jay Howell each added an RBI in the sweep to clinch the region crown.
After losing four straight in early March, the Trojans have now won 14 of their last 17 games.
“We’ve worked for (the region title) all year,” Nichols said. “Coach just told us to keep playing and keep fighting. (Now) I’m ready for a run in the playoffs.”