EASLEY—Colby Loggins hit a three-run home run to highlight a six-run fifth inning as Easley rallied from behind to defeat New Jersey, 8-4, in the Big League World Series at the JB “Red” Owens Recreation Complex Friday night.
In the other Friday night game, Florida, the Southeast Region champion, held off Texas for a 4-3 victory. Easley and Florida, both 1-1, play Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Easley 8, New Jersey 4
Easley Manager Gregg Powell said he was pleased with the team’s comeback in the fifth inning.
“We had played a good game and things just kind of came together in the fifth,” Powell said. “When he (Loggins) hit the long ball, it was a big lift for us and I think it broke the other team’s (New Jersey) backs. They are a good team.”
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Easley-based host team, representing SC District 1, sent 10 batters to the plate. Tanner Lollis led off the inning with a double and then reached third on a passed ball. After Justin Allen walked, Trey Hayes singled scoring Lollis to cut the New Jersey lead to 4-3. Zach Steele hit a two-run double, scoring Allen and Hayes to give Easley a 5-4 lead. Max McDougald reached on an error and Steele moved to third. Loggins then drove a curveball over the fence to give Easley its 8-4 lead.
“I’ve seen enough curveballs to know what was coming,” said Loggins. “Playing in the smaller park,(Field No. 3 where all but one home run in the series have been hit), I just hit it hard.”
Loggins said he was proud of the way he and his teammates came from behind for the victory.
“It’s hard to stay positive when you’re down, 4-2,” said Loggins. “But, this is a great team and we bounced back.”
New Jersey, the East Region champion, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning without the ball ever leaving the infield. New Jersey got back-to-back infield singles by Anthony Lopez and Daron Moore. Lopez advanced to third and Moore to second on a passed ball and then Lopez scored the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice. Easley Starter Tucker Burgess got three of his nine strikeouts in that opening inning.
Easley tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the second on a home run by Steele. In the top of the third, New Jersey got a lead-off by pitcher Aaron Cox. Eric Stratoti came in to run for Cox and scored on a single by Kenny Dunns to take a 2-1 lead.
Easley struck again with a lead-off home run, this time by centerfielder Justin Allen, to tie the game at 2-2.
The East champion got back on the scoreboard when Vaughn Watson got on base on an Easley error. Lopez gave New Jersey a 3-2 lead with a single that scored Vaughn. Lopez made the score 4-2, scoring on a single by Cox.
Easley rallied in the fifth with the six run coming on five hits and one New Jersey error.
Burgess pitched five and a third innings, giving up four runs on six hits while striking out nine and walking none in 101 pitches. Hayes came on in relief after Burgess got the first out of the sixth inning to get the final five outs of the game without a hit or a walk.
“I thought Tucker did a great job,” Powell said. “We gave him the ball and told him it was his ballgame.”
Florida 4, Texas 3
Florida got three runs in the bottom of the third on three hits and taking advantage of two Texas errors. Florida then made two errors of its own in the top of the fourth and Texas added two runs on two hits to cut the Florida lead to 3-2. Luis Guerra scored in the top of the fifth for Texas to tie the score at 3-3.
Florida got the decisive run in the bottom of the fifth when Jordan Savinon walked and reached third on a double by Jesse Dingman and then scored to give Florida the 4-3 margin. Ben Emery, who pitched the final two and two-thirds innings gave up one hit and struck out two to earn the win.