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Redskins ready themselves for second Metter showdown
To win the baseball region championship, Bryan County need to beat Metter away on Thursday evening.
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When it comes to baseball in Region 3A-D1, all roads run through Metter--which Bryan County learned on Tuesday night.

Needing a sweep of a doubleheader to win its first region championship since 1987, the Redskins put themselves in position to get the job done with an 8-7 extra-inning win in the opener but came up a cropper in the nightcap as they dropped a 6-0 decision.

“We last won a region in 1987 and we should have won one tonight,” Bryan County Coach Justin Covington said. “We couldn’t string together any hits.

“I felt we had a good lineup and a good approach at it but he was a good pitcher and he did what he was supposed to do and we didn’t.”

The ‘he’ was Metter freshman lefthander Caelon Vernon who scattered six hits and stranded nine Redskins as the Tigers battled to defend their region championship.

The two teams will square off again at 6 p.m. Thursday at Metter and the assignment for Bryan County (14-7, 7-1) is simple: win and claim a region championship. Lose and possibly finish as a frustrated runner-up.

Metter (5-11-2, 5-2) is having an off-season by its lofty standards: after winning back-to-back state championships the Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight last year where they lost to eventual state champion Prince Avenue. Going into this season Metter was 86-21 over the previous three years.

However, when it comes to region play it is still the team to beat despite having a lineup dominated by underclassmen and playing without all-state shortstop Rustin Rigdon who is committed to Vanderbilt. Rigdon was lost for the season due to arm surgery.

“If we beat them, we’re region champs,” Covington said. “If they beat us, it’ll come down to their game with Screven County. If we both finish with two losses the tiebreaker is head-to-head. We’ve got second locked up but we want to win the region.”

By winning the first game—only its fifth win over Metter against 21 losses in the last dozen years—Bryan County assured itself of opening state tournament play at home. And it would be, Covington said, their first home state playoff series since that 1987 title.

After losing a 6-1 lead, the Redskins won it in the eighth when freshman catcher Eli Koskela scored on a Metter error. Ethan Williams laid down a bunt which the Tigers pitcher threw wildly past first and Koskela came in to score. Cooper Ennis got the win in relief of starter Trip Wiggins.

Wiggins was cruising until the fourth when Metter scored five runs, all unearned, thanks to some shaky Bryan County defense.

Wiggins gave up a leadoff single but he got the next two men. However, the next hitter reached on an error and that opened the floodgates. The next three batters singled and then shortstop Carter Gainus crushed a 2-2 pitch to left for a three-run homer to tie the game.

Bryan regained the lead in the bottom of the evening when Wiggins doubled with one out, moved to third on Tanner Ennis’ bunt single and then scored on an error. Metter scored in the fifth to force extra innings.



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