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Baseball: Redskins start strong in region play
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Bryan County’s baseball team couldn’t have asked for a better start to Region 3A-DI play when it opened with a three-game sweep over neighboring Claxton.

Not only did the Redskins get the sweep against one of their biggest rivals but they did it by winning twice on the road where wins are more difficult to come by.

“That was huge,” coach Justin Covington said. “Coach (Gohneil) Brown has done a phenomenal job of turning that job around from last year to this year. In the third game they came to play as they didn’t want to get swept.

“But our boys did a good job to get the win and that set us up for a good start to region play.”

Bryan County had won the first two games 8-4 and 17-0 before hanging on in third game for a 6-5 win to set up an important series with Screven County which, along with Metter, was one of the pre-season favorites to win the region.

The Redskins wasted no time in putting themselves in the driver’s seat in the region race by winning twice at Screven on Tuesday night.

In the opener first baseman A.J. Thomas drove in two runs with a double and shortstop Cooper Ennis had a pair of singles and drove in a run while designated hitter Tanner Ennis had two hits and scored twice to pace an 11-1 win.

In the nightcap, senior righthander Justin Beck was dominant, striking out seven in blanking the Gamecocks, 10-0. Beck also helped himself at the plate with three hits to drive in three runs and Thomas also had three RBI with a pair of hits.

The Redskins will be looking for their second straight sweep when they host Screven on Friday at 6pm

“Bobby Cox (former Atlanta manager) always talked about winning the series, not going undefeated and my Dad (Noah Covington) taught me that when the region went to three game series,” Covington said. “We want to win every game but we want to win the series.”

A win over the Gamecocks would put Bryan County (12-6, 5-0) in position to win the region race going into a crucial series next week with defending champion Metter.

The Tigers have not only won the last three region championships but they won state titles in 2021 and 2022 before losing to eventual state champion Prince Avenue Christian in last year’s Elite Eight.

Bryan County will face off against the Tigers (3-9-1, 3-1) on Tuesday with a twin-bill at Redskins Field. First game is at 4pm with the second to follow 30 minutes later.

Although he lost his top two starting pitchers from last season Covington was looking for a good season but much of that was based on having Tanner Ennis available as a starting outfielder and as his ace out of the bullpen. Ennis, however, had shoulder surgery in December and only recently became available for designated hitter duties.

“We had to adopt the next man up mentality,” Covington said. “Going into the season the mindset was to develop some of these young guys and get to the fifth inning where we would have Tanner to close it.

“Tripp Wiggins has stepped up into a big leadership role on the mound,” Covington said. “He didn’t pitch a lot last year but now he wants the ball. He wants to be the guy.

“Tripp and Justin Beck have been our one-two guys and then we’ve got some younger guys like Geoff Hovis and Cooper Ennis who are really shutting people down,” Covington said. “Eli Koskela is a freshman catcher who is going to be a great player for us.”

With a young pitching staff and a freshman catcher, the Redskins have relied on a strong offense and solid defense to put themselves in position to have an outstanding season that could result in a region championship and third straight trip to the state playoffs.

The outfield, Covington said, is solid as is the infield which is anchored by senior Sean Kelly Hill at second base with Cooper Ennis at shortstop, Wiggins at third when he’s not pitching, and Thomas or Ethan Williams at first.

Beck is a rangy 6-foot-3 senior who covers a lot of ground in left field and is a hard thrower on the mound. He is also hitting in the .400 range.

What Beck and Kris Martin in right can’t get to the fleet, Cay'ron Rawls in center can.

“This is the strongest outfield I think we’ve ever had,” Covington said. “There’s a lot of experience out there, Cay’ron can track down a ball. I see him get to balls that when they’re hit I think there’s no way. He just gets there and makes the play.”

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