WARNER ROBINS -- The Houston County Bears put together some clutch hits late and came away with a 2-1 GHSA Region 2-AAAAA victory over Warner Robins in a pitchers duel Friday at the Demon Diamond.
Houston County’s victory keeps it perfect at 5-0 in region play, while Warner Robins falls to 1-3.
“I would have liked to see us play a little better (Friday), but it’s a confidence booster for these guys to play in a tight game and execute to pull out the win when we didn’t play probably our best,” Houston County head coach Jason Brett said.
Warner Robins jumped ahead 1-0 early by taking advantage of a Houston County miscue. Leadoff man Brannon Green reached on a two-base error to start the bottom of the first and came around to score just one batter later on a Peyton Ridings double.
Demons starting pitcher Steven Smith made the slim lead hold up until the sixth inning in tough hitting conditions. Smith induced 10 fly ball outs into a stiff wind blowing directly in from center field in the first five innings. The right-hander changed speeds effectively and kept Houston County hitters out on their front foot.
“He was mixing in a little curveball and keeping us off balance a little bit,” Brett said. “You have to tip your hat to Smith. He did a great job, and we were lucky to find a way to scratch it out.”
The Bears broke through in the sixth on a clutch two-out hit from starting pitcher Hunter Phillips. His line drive to left scored D.L. Hall, who had singled to start the inning, and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Fromm.
Houston County executed a small-ball approach again in the seventh to score the winning run. After Mark Lumsden drew one of only two walks by Smith to begin the inning, Tanner Hall executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Lumsden to second and set the stage for Austin Hittinger. The shortstop answered by lacing a double into the gap in left-center field for the go-ahead RBI.
“You’re going to have days where you’re not at your best and you have to find ways to win,” Brett said. “I thought we did a good job of that (Friday). Late in the game, we executed our bunts and hit with runners in scoring position to get the two runs.”
Hall picked up the win after relieving Phillips in the sixth inning, as the two combined to throw a one-hitter. Phillips worked five innings, struck out seven, gave up the lone hit in the first inning and the only Demons run, which was unearned.
Hall was untouchable in his two innings of work as the lefty blew away Warner Robins hitters with five strikeouts.
“You can’t say enough about our pitching (Friday),” Brett said. “Hunter Phillips did a great job in his first game back, and Tanner Hall was outstanding closing the door.”