TIFTON -- The Lee County Trojans came into their Region 1-AAAAA baseball opener Tuesday night with a 12-2 record and as the No. 3 team in the state Class AAAAA poll. The host Tift County Blue Devils were at 9-6 and nowhere near the rankings.
With those numbers against them, Tift entered the contest as a heavy underdog. However, Lee needed eight innings to defeat the Devils by a 4-3 score.
"The kids didn't quit. We played hard all night," said Tift coach Chuck Beale.
Even though he ended the game as the losing pitcher, Brent Lastinger gave the Devils a strong performance on the hill. The senior pitched a complete game, struck out eight, gave up nine hits, allowed two earned runs and walked no one.
"Brent did a great job tonight for us," said Beale.
Lastinger only gave up more than one hit in one inning, but that was the eighth and Lee took advantage to score two runs. Tied at 2-2, Lee's Jack Stripling tripled and with one out scored on a single by Jason Weaver. Weaver's hit was a looper that was just out of the reach of Tift's drawn-in infield.
Weaver would then later score on a double by Sam Dieter.
Down 4-2 in the bottom of the frame, Tift's Israel Troupe singled to left off Weaver, who had entered the game that inning for starter Buster Posey. With two outs, Alan Manning singled to center. On the play, Troupe went to third and the throw by the centerfielder got by the third baseman allowing him to score Tift's third run of the night.
However, Weaver struck out Matt Shurley to end the game.
Posey was impressive on the hill for the Trojans. He gave up one earned run in seven innings of work, struck out 12 and walked three.
At one point in the game he sat down 14 straight Tift batters.
That string ended in the sixth when Troupe singled to lead off the inning. Matt Davis then walked, but Alan Manning struck out and Shurley hit into a double play to end the inning.
Davis and Manning both tried to bunt Troupe over during their at-bats, but were unable to do so.
In the seventh, Tift's Lee Caquelard singled and Jake Richardson went into run for him. Charlie Edwards popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt for one out. After that Corey Taylor and Josh Salter each struck out to end the threat.
"We didn't make the routine plays tonight. We have got to be able to get the bunt down in those situations," said Beale.
Lee scored two unearned runs in the top of the first. Justin Hall reached on an error and went to third when Stripling doubled. Hall scored when the third strike to Posey got by Caquelard behind the plate. Weaver then hit into a double play that saw Stripling score.
"Errors hurt us again. We have just got to make the routine plays and execute when we get the chance," said Beale.
Tift scored its first two runs in the first. With one out Davis and Manning walked to put runners on first and second. Shurley then singled in Davis and on the play the ball got by the Lee rightfielder allowing Manning to score on the play.
Troupe led Tift at the plate, going 2-for-4. Stripling was 3-for-4 for Lee, while Deiter was 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Tift will now get set to play Lowndes Friday in another 1-AAAAA contest. That game will be at 7 p.m.
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