On Friday night, it was a great night to be a Berrien Rebel.
In one of South Georgia’s most-heated baseball rivalries, the Rebels (7-2, 2-0 in Region 1-AA) dominated the Cook Hornets (6-3, 1-1 in region play), flexing their muscle in all phases of the game, earning a 13-1 victory by a fifth-inning run-rule and making a statement to the rest of the region.
“We have a lot of good teams in this region,” Berrien head coach Doug Nix said, downplaying his team’s statement win Friday night. “Anybody can beat anybody in the region. You just have games like this, where everything they throw up there, you hit it. And then you have a game where you just can’t hit anything. That is baseball. We are just glad we won it.”
After a slow start, Berrien’s bats caught fire and the Rebels scored one run in the second and another in the third, before exploding for 11 runs on nine hits in a fourth inning that saw 15 batters come to the plate against four different Hornet pitchers.
“We just started hitting it the last couple of days,” Nix said. “I knew we could swing it; I thought it was something we were going to be good at. We struggled early on, but we have started hitting it, and we certainly hit it really well tonight. That is what you always play for — a big inning. …. If you have a big inning, you usually win.”
The Rebels scored their runs in a multitude of ways. They singled, they doubled, they walked, they were aggressive on the base paths and they took advantage of three wild pitches by the Hornets.
In the monstrous fourth inning, every Rebel batter that stepped to the plate scored a run, and two batters even scored multiple runs in the inning.
Everything went the Rebels’ way.
The Rebels were leading 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning. Shawn Witt led off with a single, followed by singles from Logan Balkcom and Ashton Sparks, which scored Witt. Then, after a Cook pitching change, Travis Branham grounded into a fielder’s choice, but every Rebel runner reached base safely, including Balkcom, who beat the throw to home plate.
The Rebels’ Devonte Bass walked, and the Hornets made another pitching change. Then Dalton Ingram singled to score Branham and Bass, Taylor Griner walked and Hunter Garrett doubled to score Ingram.
The Rebels led 9-1, and they weren’t done.
The Hornets made a fourth, and final, pitching change in the inning, but Berrien just continued on. Dalton McMillan, the Rebels’ only pitcher on the night, doubled, scoring Griner and Garrett, and the lead was 11-1 with no outs.
After Witt singled, McMillan scored on a wild pitch and Balkcom struck out, becoming the first out of the inning. Then Sparks capped off the Rebels’ scoring with a single, driving in Witt.
The Rebels finished the run-rule victory in style — McMillan struck out the side in the Hornets’ fifth inning.
McMillan’s dominating fifth inning was exactly how the night went for the Rebels. The senior allowed one unearned Hornet run — Parker Bennett reached base on an error and scored on a Dalton Rentz single in the third inning — and allowed just one hit. He struck out nine, including the final five batters of the game.
“He is a senior that has kind of been in the shadows of Drew Harrelson and Kal Simmons the last three years. He has been our No. 3 pitcher since he was a sophomore,” Nix said. “This is his year to shine and he is finally our No. 1. He has great command of all three pitchers, and when you have a high school pitcher that can throw all three pitches for strikes, that is special.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better pitching performance tonight.”
For Cook, Brock Rountree took the loss after allowing five runs (all earned) on six hits in three-plus innings. From there, three separate Hornet relievers faced 12 batters and allowed eight runs, with two failing to record a single out.
Berrien got a run in the bottom of the second inning. Balkcom reached base on a two-out walk and stole second base. Then Sparks singled past Cook’s shortstop to score Balkcom.
After Cook evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the third, the Rebels regained the lead on an Ingram RBI single that scored Garrett in the bottom of the third inning.
Rebels score 11 runs in fourth inning, rout rivals
On Friday night, it was a great night to be a Berrien Rebel.
- Local Sports
All-Region teams announced
Lowndes was one win away from a trip to the Class AAAAAA state semifinals, and the success by the Vikings this season showed when the All-Region 1 baseball teams were announced Monday.
Lowndes tennis dominates
Lowndes’ tennis team dominated the All-Region 1 teams, with coach Heath Phelps garnering Coach of the Year honors on both the girls’ and boys’ side.
Banks Lake Youth Fishing Derby a success
The 13th annual Banks Lake Youth Fishing Derby held May 11 drew 150 children from ages 3 to 15 who competed for trophies while learning how to fish.
Valdosta's Alakulppi ties for 2nd at state
Valdosta freshman golfer Luukas Alakulppi fired a 71 to finish in a tie for second at the Class AAAAAAA state golf tournament in Tifton.
Brooks County's Parrish in Rivals Top 100
Brooks County rising senior Malkolm Parrish is ranked the 73rd best high school football prospect in the nation, according to the release of the Rivals.com Top 100.
Summer camp information
VSU baseball camp coming soon
Prince Automotive donates new baseball equipment
Prince Automotive of Valdosta is supporting the Valdosta community through its partnership with the Valdosta/Lowndes County Recreation Department. The dealership has joined forces with the national Chevrolet Youth Baseball program to provide new equipment, instructional clinics, and a monetary donation.
Needmore holds final races before big Memorial Day weekend
Saturday night racing at Needmore Speedway saw some new faces in victory lane.
That wasn’t the case in the Late Model division, as Valdosta's Gene Ross drove to victory once again, but not without some close competition from Steven Roberts who came in second.
In the Limited Late Model class, it was another win for Cole Exum, with Gene Maine finishing second in the NAPA Auto Parts special.
VSU softball wins South Region, headed to nationals
For the third time in four years, and second in a row, Valdosta State’s softball team will play in the national championship tournament.
The Blazers won their third South Region championship Saturday, beating Alabama-Huntsville 8-3 in game three of the best-of-three series at Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park.
VSU baseball season comes to an end
Delta State scored seven unanswered runs to defeat Valdosta State 7-2 in an elimination game of the NCAA South Region Tournament at the UT Baseball Field Saturday afternoon.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- All-Region teams announced