Schley County wins late over Blue Devils

Apr. 20—TIFTON — Two of Georgia's best high school baseball teams closed out their regular seasons Friday night at Devil Diamond. Though the final result was a disappointment for Tift County Blue Devils fans, their contest itself with the Schley County Wildcats was every bit of excellence from two region champions.

Schley scored three times in the top of the seventh to nip the Devils, 6-5. Tift had runners at second and third with two outs in the bottom half, but hurler Rylan Conner coaxed an infield grounder for the Wildcats to hang on.

When the game opened, a Tift runaway seemed imminent.

Brady Moretz led off by reaching on an error and the bases soon filled on walks to John Davis and Mac Brooks. There was no room to put Cam Smith, but the Devils' backstop found himself a spot, bringing home Moretz on a two-out walk.

Tyler Holmes poked a ball into shallow left-center that hit off a Schley glove, clearing the bases for a 4-0 lead. Tift batted around in the frame after Jake Spurlin extended the inning further with a walk, but no other runs scored.

The 'Cats clawed two runs back in the second, Julian Salazar plating on a wild pitch, then Jacob Little grounding out with one down to score Ashton Raybon. One frame later, the score got even closeron a Salazar single that drove in Conner.

This was despite a number of great plays by Tift County, including a nice backhand stop by Spurlin at third and Holmes diving to his right to take a base hit away in the fourth. An even bigger play came by Luke Ellerbee in the fifth. With the bases juiced and two outs, Ellerbee raced after a deep fly, hit the wall with audible thud and held on to the baseball for a catch.

Offensively, the Blue Devils could not quite break through against Brady Smith, who started, or Conner, who came on in relief in the fifth.

Tift added a run to its lead in the fifth on three hits, though Brooks ultimately scored because of a throwing error on a grounder by Smith. Spurlin and Ty Dorden singled to help load the bases with two down, but Conner came through with a strikeout.

Schley tied the game in the seventh when Oscar Lloyd tripled in Jay Kanazawa, who then scored on a single by Jack Clark. One batter later, Trenton Stubbs hit a double that almost left the yard and the Wildcats went ahead by a run.

Holmes reached for the fourth time in the game on an error in the seventh and Spurlin singled up the middle. Ellerbee moved both into scoring position on a one-out sacrifice bunt, but Conner was able to close out the game.

Davis, Holmes and Spurlin all had two hits for the Blue Devils. Tyler VanSumeren, Landon Parrish and Moretz all pitched.