GHSA BASEBALL PLAYOFFS ROUNDUP: Lee County smacks four homers in opening-round sweep

Trojans will play Houston County in Round 2

WAYCROSS — Lee County spent the entire regular season waiting for its offense to come alive.

Something finally clicked on Saturday.

The Region 1-AAAAA No. 4 seed Trojans entered Saturday’s state tournament opening-round series against Region 3-AAAAA top seed Ware County with just one home run the entire season, but Lee County smacked four homers to sweep the doubleheader and stun the host Gators.

“We came in averaging like four hits a game the whole season, and we just unloaded (Saturday),” Lee County coach Brandon Brock said. “We kind of flushed everything that happened during the season, but even though we flushed it, we grew from it. They are buying into what we are selling. I told them that if they stuck with it, good things would happen.”

The Trojans entered the series with an 8-17 record but now will be carrying momentum into Wednesday’s second-round series against Houston County with wins of 4-1 and 8-5 against Ware County.

“The guys walked into the playoffs with an 8-17 record, but in the postseason everybody starts out 0-0,” said Brock, the Trojans’ first-year coach. “We approached these games like we were the No. 1 seed with a 25-0 record. Their demeanor was great. We feel like we are dangerous with some of the guys we have.”

Nobody was more dangerous on Saturday than Lee County’s Nick Bush, who broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh inning of the opener with a three-run homer to center field.

“It was elation,” Brock said about his team’s reaction following Bush’s home run. “We had had just one home run all year. After that it snowballed, and we just got stronger.”

Bush hit one of Lee County’s three homers in the second game, while Josh Hatcher and Austin Sheltra also went yard.

The Trojans were tough on the mound, too. Bush started the opener and got the no decision, while Garet Morrell pitched in relief and got the victory. In the second game, starter Michael Reddick was the winning pitcher, and Morrell got the save.

Next up for the Trojans is Region 2-AAAAA No. 2 seed Houston County, which swept Northgate on Friday.

“They are good,” Brock said about Houston County. “They have a strong senior class and are well coached. We will have our work cut out for us.”

CRISP WINS GAME 3, ADVANCES: After splitting Friday’s doubleheader against South Effingham, the Region 1-AAAA champion Crisp Academy baseball team bounced back with a 9-0 victory Saturday to clinch the series and advance to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

Crisp starter Taylor Walls shut down Region 3-AAAA No. 4 seed South Effingham, allowing just two hits in a complete-game shutout. He also struck out five and didn’t walk a single Mustang.

“He did very well,” Crisp coach Bill Pate said of Walls. “We were very pleased with his performance (Saturday). He did what we asked him to do. We said to go out there and pitch to contact and not try to overpower people. He did a very good job of that.”

Crisp only had four hits in the game but capitalized on six South Effingham errors to put together several big innings offensively. The Cougars scored three runs in the first inning, which was highlighted by a Chris McGinnis double, and then added one more in the third and a pair of runs in the fourth inning. The first two Crisp hitters in the sixth inning reached on South Effingham errors, which led to the Cougars’ final three runs.

Crisp (22-5-1) will play again Wednesday at home against either West Laurens or Griffin.

“We lost a tough one (Friday) night in the second game and really had a couple of opportunities to win it and just didn’t,” Pate said. “I am very proud of how they came out (Saturday) morning ready and prepared, both emotionally and mentally. They came to take care of business and did just that.”