CAIRO — Patience paid off for the Thomas County Central baseball team Monday night.

Starting pitcher Josh Collins patiently worked through some early season struggles and senior outfielder Matt Roach kept his composure despite some tough early outs.

The end result was a 10-4 Yellow Jacket win at Jackie Robinson Field with Collins and Roach leading the way.

After heading Central’s rotation as a junior, Collins’ senior year had been plagued by inconsistency. Against the Syrupmakers (8-5), Collins reverted to form, striking out eight in six innings with no walks.

“He’s kind of been in a little funk, but he’s a hard worker,” Central (11-4) coach Chad Parkerson said. “We talked a little bit about him coming out and doing what he was supposed to.

“He did a great job tonight. He looked really good.”

Collins enjoyed his successful day by peppering the strike zone early and often. He retired the first 10 Syrupmakers he faced by consistently working ahead in the count.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that when you’re ahead in the count, the averages work to your advantage,” Parkerson said. “He did a great job at that tonight and when you do that, it makes life a little easier.”

Cairo coach Tommy York added: “Give the Collins kid some credit, but we weren’t looking like we did early in the year stinging the baseball.”

The Syrupmakers didn’t reach base until Eric Brock bunted in the fourth. Hugh Russell Lee reached base twice for Cairo.

While Collins was stifling Cairo, Central’s bats woke up with a big second inning. The Jackets batted around in the frame in scoring five runs. Central added one in the fifth on a Taylor Welch home run before Roach started a two-run rally in the sixth.

After drilling a line drive to center his first at-bat and then smashing a one-hopper to Josh Daughtry in the fourth, Roach unloaded on a Lee pitch in the sixth, driving the ball out to center.

“He’s hitting a lot better than his average is saying,” Parkerson said. “He’s hit some at ’em balls — you know right at ’em — and it finally paid off for him tonight.”

“We had some pitchers make some mistakes and get behind in the count and they’re good enough to make you pay for it,” York said.

Welch and Blake Sumner each scored two runs and Welch and Cory Harrell each had two RBIs.


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