BCHS wins first games of state playoffs

It’s been a quarter century since the Bryan County baseball team advanced to the second round of the state baseball playoffs.

But that’s exactly where the Redskins find themselves after hitting the road and picking up a pair of wins over Pataula Charter last Friday in the first round of the public Class A tournament.

Coach Justin Covington said the Redskins (18-7) last won an opening series in 1987 after his team won 21-10 and 7-6, the latter of which were spectacular.

“Our boys came out on fire,” said Covington, who is in his third year as head coach at his alma mater. “Tanner Ennis opened the game with a triple and it was on.”

The Redskins, forced to go on the road as the No. 3 seed, next face the Academy for Classical Education in a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Macon. A third match, if necessary, would be played on Thursday.

After the opener, Bryan County, which at one point trailed 6-3, took the win when Konnor Leggett came home with the winning run on a goal-laden wild field in the bottom of the seventh.

The Panthers had starter Jacob Hughes, who went 4.2 innings, for four runs in the third and two in the fifth before Tanner Ennis came in to stifle the rally.

With Ennis, the Redskins’ superb second reliever, slamming the door, Bryan County got to work.

The Redskins got a run in the fifth on Aaron Bailey’s sacrifice fly — it was his team’s 36th run produced for the season — and tied it in the sixth. Justin Beck had an RBI single and after Ennis picked to send him to third, Beck scored on a passed fly ball.

In the seventh, Leggett led off with a single, stole second, and went third on a pitch. After intentional walks to Jacob Hughes and Zach Sitton, he scored when the ball passed the receiver.

“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 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 gave Ennis, who ended Game 1 with two scoreless innings, their first win of the season. In 14 relief appearances, Ennis (1-1) has a 0.72 ERA and 1.0400 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in just 25 innings.

In Game 1, the Redskins took a 14-2 lead and then had to survive an eighth-point outburst from the PCA in the fifth inning. Although the Panthers cut the deficit to 14-10, the game was never in doubt as Bryan County, who scored in every inning, responded 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 retire him. That was enough for Leggett, who also hit .397, to take his record to 9-2.

Bryan County had 14 hits with Sitton’s three leading. Leggett, Ennis and Hughes had two each. Ennis, Leggett, Bailey, Hughes and Sitton each had two RBIs. Each player in the starting lineup had one hit.

Incidentally, Sitton had a nine-hitter streak going 0-for-1 in Game 2, despite walking three. During the streak, Sitton raised his 96-point batting average to .286.

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