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Comets top Rams in region opener

Photo by Jason Braverman

Photo by Jason Braverman

SNELLVILLE -- South Gwinnett baseball coach Steve Teschner thought about pulling his starting pitcher going into the seventh inning of Monday's game.

Thomas Embry thought otherwise.

"I told him I wanted to pitch the last inning," Embry said. "Let me close it out."

Embry allowed a run and two runners on base, before working out of the seventh-inning jam. The senior caught a pop fly to end the game and give the Comets a 5-4 win over rival Grayson in the Region 8-AAAAA opener.

"I wanted a strikeout to end the game, but I'll take the pop out," Embry said.

Embry (2-1) didn't put up shocking numbers. The senior allowed 13 hits and had just one strikeout, but he was able to pitch his way out of jams in five of the seven innings.

"He's been a leader for us and he's been our best person the mound," Teschner said. "He said he wanted the ball, he wanted to end the game."

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years last season, South made a good start for a return trip to the postseason by winning the region opener. The Comets (5-3, 1-0) had some help, though, from Grayson (7-4). An error in the fourth inning gave the Comets the go-ahead run and South took the lead on an error in the fifth. The Rams had five errors in the game.

"The way we've lost games is the same way we lost tonight," Grayson coach Seth Rhine said. "Leaving runners on base, untimely errors, that's what hurt us."

Grayson took a 1-0 in the first when Kyle Streicher (2-for-4) scored on a Clay Ardeeser (2-for-4) hit.

South responded with a three-run inning in the bottom of the first. Kent Rollins (2-for-3) hit his second home run of the season to give the Comets a 2-1 lead.

Grayson tied it 3-3 in the fourth when Brandon Benson drove in Austin Meadows, who was pinch running for Mike McHugh (2-for-4, RBI). Carter Collins (3-for-3, two RBIs) followed with the tying run on an Austin Hayes fielder's choice.

South freshman Montrell Marshall reached on an error in the fourth that allowed Ryan McDowell (2-for-3) to score. Rollins put South up 5-3 after he reached on an error, took third on a passed ball and scored on an error.

"They had some untimely errors that helped us," Teschner said.

Grayson tried to make a comeback in the seventh with McHugh driving in Ardeeser, but Embry finished off the game with a pop fly.

"This is a big win for us," Teschner said. "This region is going to be a war. When you have three teams that are ranked in the top 15 of the state at the beginning of the year, it's tough."