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April 2, 2013

Rebels have monster inning, rout Brantley County, 15-2

VALDOSTA — After three straight innings of leaving the bases loaded, the Berrien Rebels finally unloaded on Brantley County, batting through their lineup and routing the Herons 15-2 Monday afternoon at Valdosta State’s Billy Grant Field.

The Rebels scored 12 runs on eight hits and were assisted by four costly Brantley County errors in the fourth inning, blowing open what had been a one-run game through the first three innings.

“We kept thinking we would have a big inning,” Berrien head coach Doug Nix said. “That is what you hope for in high school baseball — play for a big inning. We just couldn’t make it happen. I kept telling the kids, ‘Look, there is a lot of ball game left and to keep plugging away.’ And we finally did. We finally had that big inning and that was nice.”

Berrien (12-3) unloaded on two different Herron pitchers, making the inning look more like batting practice than a game, scoring all nine batters that took to the plate, including three that scored multiple runs.

After Dalton McMillan started the inning with a strikeout, the Rebels went on their scoring rampage. Shawn Whitt and Logan Balkcom each singled, Ashton Sparks walked and Travis Branham delivered a two-run double. Devonte Bass and Dalton Ingram both walked, and Taylor Griner connected on another two-run double to give the Rebels an 8-2 lead.

“We have five seniors and they don’t hit the panic button,” Nix said. “That is what you hope for. There are going to be some games where we are going to have to come from behind and win. I think experience has helped us tremendously. They don’t panic.”

The inning continued when Hunter Garrett singled in Ingram, making the score 9-2.

Then, Griner scored on a wild pitch, McMillan singled, Whitt reached on an error that scored Garrett and McMillan and Balkcom tripled to score Whitt.  

The Rebels led 13-2, and they weren’t finished.

Sparks reached base on another Herron error, scoring Balkcom. Sparks scored later in the inning when Ingram reached on a Brantely County’s third error of the inning.

Like they had done the three previous innings, the Rebels left the bases loaded in the fourth inning, bringing their total for the game to 12.

Berrien scored two runs in the first inning, despite only have one hit. Ingram, Griner and McMillan all reached base on walks, before Whitt grounded to first base, which scored Ingram.

Whitt beat out the flip to first base, and was the Rebels’ only hit of the inning. After a pop fly out by Balkcom, Sparks was hit by a pitch, which scored Griner from third base.

Brantley County scored a run in the top second inning, taking advantage of an error at third base by Griner to load the bases and score a run. But, with the bases loaded, Sparks, the Rebels’ starting and winning pitcher, induced an inning-ending grounder to get out of the jam.

Berrien added to its lead in the bottom second inning, when McMillan singled to score Griner with two outs. But, Brantley County got the run back in the top of the fourth inning.

Sparks earned the victory for the Rebels. He allowed one unearned run on one hit in three innings. He struck out three and walked three.

“I thought our pitching was good,” Nix said. “We had that inning where we made some errors and allowed them to score.”

Monday’s game was played at Billy Grant Field after heavy winds cause damage to Berrien’s home stadium last month.

Nix said the Rebels hope to be able to play at home again sometime next month.

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