It’s been a quarter of a century since Bryan County’s baseball team advanced to the second round of the state baseball playoffs.
But, that’s exactly where the Redskins find themselves after going on the road and pulling off a pair of wins over Pataula Charter last Friday in the opening round of the Class A Public tournament.
Coach Justin Covington said the Redskins (18-7) last won an opening series in 1987 after his team picked up 21-10 and 7-6 wins, the latter coming in dramatic fashion.
“Our boys came out on fire,” said Covington who is in his third year as head coach at his alma mater. “Tanner Ennis opened up the game with a triple and it was on.”
The Redskins, forced to go on the road as a No. 3 seed, will next face the Academy for Classical Education in a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Macon. A third game, if necessary, would be played Thursday.
After the opening game romp Bryan County, which at one point trailed 6-3, got the win when Konnor Leggett raced home with the winning run on a one out bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh.
The Panthers got to starter Jacob Hughes, who lasted 4.2 innings, for four runs in the third and two in the fifth before Tanner Ennis came in to snuff out the rally.
With Ennis, the Redskins’ superb sophomore reliever, slamming the door shut Bryan County went to work.
The Redskins got a run in the fifth on Aaron Bailey’s sacrifice fly—it was his team high 36th RBI of the season—and tied it in the sixth. Justin Beck had an RBI single and after Ennis singled to send him to third Beck scored on a passed ball.
In the seventh Leggett led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out. After intentional walks to Jacob Hughes and Zach Sitton he scored when the ball got past the catcher.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Covington said of the win. “I’m so proud of these boys. They have overcome so much this season.
“Our home field was under renovation so we had to play at Hendrix Park. Then the tornado destroyed that field and we had to practice in a backyard. We were grateful to play our home games at Mill Creek Park in Statesboro.”
Leggett’s dash enabled Ennis, who closed out the opener with two scoreless innings, to pick up his first win of the season. In 14 relief appearance Ennis (1-1) has a 0.72 ERA and a 1.0400 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in only 25 innings.
In the opener the Redskins built up a 14-2 lead and then had to survive a PCA eighth run outburst in the fifth inning. Although the Panthers cut the deficit to 14-10 the game was never in doubt as Bryan County, which scored in every inning, answered with seven runs in the final two innings.
Leggett, the Region 3A Public Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year, went 4.1 innings before, with a pitch count of 100, Covington had to pull him. It was enough for Leggett, who also hit .397, to run his record to 9-2.
Bryan County had 14 hits with Sitton’s three leading the way. Leggett, Ennis and Hughes had two each. Ennis, Leggett, Bailey, Hughes and Sitton each had two RBI. Every player in the starting lineup had a hit.
Sitton, incidentally, had a string of nine straight hits snapped when he was 0-for-1 in the second game although he drew three walks. During the streak Sitton raised his batting average 96 points to .286.