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April 17, 2014

Coffee can’t brew any offense against Tift’s McCray

TIFTON — For at least a few hours, the Tift County Blue Devils will be able to say they share part of the Region 1-AAAAAA baseball lead. They were winners of the first game of a doubleheader Thursday over the Coffee High Trojans, 4-0. The sides were even with two division losses.

Deviner McCray mastered the Trojans on the mound. He only allowed three hits over a complete game and fanned seven. Far from being the only reason for the win, he received plenty of defensive help, including a diving catch by Patrick Watson on the right field line to escape a bases loaded situation in the 2nd.

The Devils also had some magic with the bats. Briggs Benson went 3-3 with two runs batted in on a pair of doubles and a single.

Tift scored in the 1st, 2nd and 4th but it was a bit of luck that broke the game open early. Keegan McGovern retired his first two men on flyouts. He got Benson to put the ball in the air, but a gust of wind pushed it over the left fielder's head. He had a double and the Devils had new life.

Alex Abbott walked to put two men on, then Blake Suggs poked a single. That drove in Benson and Abbott was able to make it all the way to third. Suggs, restless at his bag, quickly took off for second. The throw to get him went into right and Abbott was run No. 2.

The Blue Devils would load the bags on Will Reinhardt's walk and a hit batsman to Zack Bullard, but a strikeout ended the damage.

Their third run came an inning later when a leadoff single by Jonah Reyes turned into trouble. Ross was hit with one out, bringing Benson back up. He doubled to left-center, scoring Reyes.

After a quiet inning, another leadoff hit led to the final run. Zeke Dodson doubled in the 4th, went to third on a Ross sacrifice bunt and crossed the plate on Benson's hit.

McCray kept Coffee off the bases most of the night, including a string of six straight outs, but he had to work his way out of trouble on more than one occasion.

He hit the first man he saw in the 2nd, Jarred Spivey. A strikeout was the first out, then Wyatt Miller singled Spivey up a base. McCray hit another man, Reed Gilbert, and that filled the bases. The pressure eased a bit with another strikeout, but Matt Strob made contact and it looked like trouble. At the last second, though, Watson dove and came up with the ball.

McCray fought out of a first and third situation in the 3rd with an inning-ending double play. Runners would be in scoring position in both the 5th and 6th, but a grounder to short ended both frames.

Miller, McGovern and Bran Davis had Coffee's hits. McGovern pitched 4.2 innings before being lifted for a reliever.

Tift had six hits total. Other than the three by Benson, Reyes, Suggs and Dodson each had one.

The two squads faced each other a second time Thursday, but that game was finished after press time. A recap will appear online Thursday night and will be printed in Sunday's newspaper.

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