TIFTON - Tift County's bats continue to heat up, but Pierce County's were slightly hotter and the Bears won an 8-5 decision Tuesday.

Six runs over the last two frames provided the winning margin. Tift had until that point.

The Blue Devils got out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, thanks to some patience at the plate. Gavin Starling and John Dorman earned walks. That brought up Cole Smith and, in his first at-bat of the season, Smith smoked a double to the left-center gap for two runs.

Smith made it 3-0 when Pierce traded an out for a run, as Bryce Stephens received an RBI on a grounder to second.

The Bears struck back for a single run in the third after Brandon Pittman bunted his way on and Knox Bennett doubled him in.

Tift pushed it back to a three-run lead twice.

In the bottom of the fourth, Jackson Strickland led off with a triple and scored on Stephens' single.

Colin Jarrel's double brought home Davis Green in the fifth to make it 4-2. Minutes later, Strickland's base hit with the bases loaded scored Brady Moretz, who was running for Bailey Booth.

Pierce took the lead in the sixth with a four-spot.

Green had the big blow, driving in Jayden Crews and J. Reid Phillips with a single. Jackson Denton and Green later scored on back-to-back hits.

Down a run, the Devils looked poised to threaten after Lino Acosta's single. However, a sharp liner to first ended in a double play.

Mason Woodcock's single down the third base line in the seventh provided two runs of insurance, Drew Starling and Phillips scoring.

Tift's defense prevented even more scoring with a series of nifty plays.

Jarrel's fifth inning double saw two runners race for the plate. Green scored, but even though the man behind him was on his heels, Strickland's throw to Booth at the plate resulted in an out.

A missed squeeze bunt in the sixth allowed Booth to catch a runner at third too far off the base. He threw to Acosta at the bag, who applied the tag. In the seventh, it was a rare 7-4 putout as Allen Moretz's throw to Smith tagged a Pierce player trying to stretch a double.

Luke Dorman was on the hill for the first five innings for the Devils and allowed two earned runs.

Acosta, Starling and Strickland had two hits each for Tift. Smith and Stephens both drove in two runs.

The Blue Devils now enter spring break. Their next game will be Tuesday at home against Valdosta. That will be follow by a region doubleheader April 16 against Lowndes.

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