Central falls to Lee County 7-6

By Greg Kohntopp

THOMASVILLE-- There was no quit in the Thomas County Central High School baseball team Monday evening. The Jackets gave the Lee County Trojans, a Class-AAAAA powerhouse, all it could handle before falling 7-6.

"We fought and kept fighting until the end," Central head coach Scott Brown said. "I'm happy with how we battled."

The Trojans, who began the season as the No. 1 team in the state and nationally ranked by some ranking services, started ace pitcher Buster Posey. Posey was dominating at times, using his fastball which clocked in at more than 90 miles per hour and a nasty curveball.

Posey struck out 13 on the night, but the Trojans still couldn't pull away from the Jackets.

After the Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning, the Jackets came right back and tied the game up in the bottom half of the third.

Doug Pilcher got the inning started by smashing a pitch past third for the Jackets first hit of the game. Austin Taylor knocked Pilcher home when he lined a single to right field. The ball got past Matthew Trotter and Taylor was able to advance to third. He would score when Matt Roach smashed a pitch up the middle for an infield hit.

The Trojans scored a run in the fourth and another in the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead.

The Jackets came right back with the help of two Trojan errors and exploded for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take its first lead of the game at 5-4.

Doug McDermond started the rally with a one out single to center. Palmer followed with a triple down the line past first baseman Justin Dykes to cut the deficit to 4-3. The tying run came across when Matt Peacoe hit a shot to short stop David Espy. Espy booted the ball and Palmer scored. Pilcher drove the last run in when he hit a line drive to left. Left fielder Sam Deiter was right on the ball, but dropped it, and Peacoe came around to score.

"Central came to play tonight," Lee County head coach Rob Williams said. "They put the bat on the ball and when you do that, good things happen."

Just six outs away from pulling the upset, the Jackets weren't able to close the deal. The Trojans proved they are one of the top teams in the state by manufacturing three runs in the top of the seventh.

Jason Weaver tripled to begin the seventh and Trotter knocked him in with a single to tie the game at 5-5. The Trojans then played small ball and manufactured the go ahead run and an insurance run. Deiter bunted safely and advanced to second on a bad throw from third base. The next two batters, Bradley Abell and David McCool, executed perfect suicide squeezes to score Trotter and Deiter.

The Jackets had a chance in the bottom of the seventh as Taylor and Roach hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning. Oki Teo followed but grounded to third base. Abell scooped the grounder, stepped on third and threw to first for a back-breaking double play. McDermond singled to center to keep the Jackets alive and Palmer followed with another single to knock in Roach to make it 7-6. The rally ended when Peacoe grounded out to end the game.

Brown said his team played well and had no reasons to hang their heads.

"It's tough to be happy when you lose," Brown said.

"We got game experience against a top-notch team and held our own. I was pleased with everything except the way the score turned out."

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