Crisp County's Witt Campbell, left, makes the tag on Lee County's Casey Hightower during the season opener for the Trojans on Thursday in Leesburg. The Cougars held on to win a wild one, 12-7
LEESBURG - Lee County's baseball season opener started with a bang, but didn't end as well.
The Trojans took an early 3-0 lead, but defense and pitching gave way in a 12-7 loss to Crisp County Thursday to open the season. A disaster of a second inning was the culprit, as the Cougars scored nine runs on four Trojans' errors and held on for their first win of the year.
"That's a backbreaker," Lee County head coach Rob Williams said of the four-error second inning. "A couple of times we were trying to do a little more than we can do."
Crisp County sophomore Stewart Tyler got the win, throwing 4 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts.
"He did a good job after the first inning settling in," Williams said of Tyler. "He hit the inside corner and pitched in-and-out and that's what good pitchers do."
Tyler allowed five runs on six hits with four walks, but it was plenty enough after the crooked number the Cougars put up in the second.
"It kind of just snowballed for us in a positive way," Crisp County head coach Bill Pate said. "The same thing happened to us Tuesday (in a season-opening loss to Tift County)."
The Trojans struck out 12 times in all after Crisp's Landon Whitman just got off the basketball court Wednesday night and threw the final two innings Thursday to close out the game with four strikeouts.
The Cougars (1-1) went 26-0 during the regular season last year before being knocked out in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs. They lost four starters off that team, but return plenty of hard-throwing arms with Stewart Tyler, older brother Robert Tyler and Whitman.
"We've just got to get better at hitting in key situations and throwing more strikes," Pate said. "The things that happened early are the things that you have to iron out."
Stewart Tyler made one big mistake early, a 1-2 inside fastball to Lee County's Andrew Stroud, who powered the ball into the moss behind left center for a three-run homer to give the Trojans a 3-0 advantage in the first.
Then came the second inning and the errors, although Stroud said he's seen worse.
"My sophomore year we had 12 errors in one inning (on the road)," he said.
So, it wasn't that bad, but it still put the Trojans in a huge whole.
Along with the four errors in the second, Lee County starter Chris Mosley gave up four infield singles that allowed runners to advance and kept the Cougars' merry-go-round going. Mosley threw 45 pitches in the inning after a perfect first inning and couldn't get out of the second.
The Cougars had five hits in the inning but only Robert Tyler's leadoff double went for extra bases. Five of the nine runs Mosley allowed in the inning were earned.
"He gave up a couple of balls that just happened to be hit in the right spot," Williams said of Mosley. "We just pitched too many 2-0, 3-1 counts."
Trojans' pitchers walked eight batters in the opener and hit two. Matt Hatcher went two innings in relief, allowing just one run on two hits with three strikeouts but also walked three. Williams said he was most impressed with senior Brent Kyzar. Outside of a two-run homer to left he gave up to Crisp's Kory Herrington in the sixth, Kyzar limited further damage in 3 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits.
"He came in, even after the home run ball, he came right back and didn't surrender," Williams said of Kyzar.
Lee County cut the lead to 10-6 in the fifth with a run-scoring single from Dalton Daniel, who later scored on a passed ball, but Herrington bumped the lead back to 12-6 with his homer in the sixth. Stroud added a RBI single in the seventh to score Nick Bush for the final Trojans' run.
Stroud finished the night 3-for-4 with four RBI. Daniel also added three hits.
Crisp County outhit Lee 10-9 and was led by Herrington's 3-for-4 night with three RBI. Cody White added two hits. Robert Tyler and Chris McGinnis each went 1-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored.
Due to impending inclement weather, Lee County called off "The Greatest Show on Dirt" tournament this weekend and will return to the field Tuesday against Chiles (Fla.). Crisp County will try to play Colquitt County today in Moultrie, weather permitting.