Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross base runner Dominique Jackson (11) is tagged out at second base by Collins Hill's Adam Horridge (2) while Jackson was stretching a single during the fourth inning of Friday's game.
NORCROSS -- From a fundamentals standpoint, Friday's Region 7-AAAAA baseball game between host Norcross and Collins Hill wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing.
But with his team having lost its previous five region contests, Eagles coach Paul Pierce won't argue with the results.
While both teams made their share of mistakes, Collins Hill was able to capitalize more, and the Eagles got a complete-game effort by Wayne Wages on the mound and scored five runs in the last three innings to break away for a 6-1 victory.
Wages (3-2) scattered 10 hits and didn't strike out a single Norcross hitter, but the senior left-hander gave up just one run and added two hits at the plate, while Jimmy Shea went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs as Collins Hill (5-7-1, 2-5) built on its upset of state-ranked Grayson in its last outing to win its second straight.
"Our kids came and battled hard," Pierce said. "We had a few breaks (come) our way and the good Lord smiled on us (Friday)."
Pierce may have a point as the run that broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fifth came on an apparent missed sign.
Chris Clark, courtesy running for Wages at third, broke for the plate as Chris Raasch (1-3) delivered to Shea.
But instead of laying down a suicide squeeze bunt, the senior leftfielder swung away and bounced an RBI single up the middle to put Collins Hill up 2-1.
"That was a botched play," Pierce admitted with a wry smile.
"Luckily, he swung away and didn't pull the ball and kill somebody. We're going to go back and come in tomorrow and begin to work on ourselves and see if we can't get some signs that are simple and we can all understand and see if we can all be on the same page."
But as many problems as Collins Hill was having with its signs, Norcross was having problems of its own both in the field and on the basepaths.
The Eagles scored another run in the inning on a wild pitch by Raasch, and added one more in the sixth on a throwing error after Andrew Sever's second stolen base of the inning, while two more throwing errors opened the door to two more Collins Hill runs in the top of the seventh.
It was too much for the Blue Devils (6-8, 2-5) to overcome, even with 10 hits, thanks to some ill-timed baserunning, plus three double plays turned by the Collins Hill defense.
"We've had issues all year," Norcross coach Jonathan Wyman said. "It's been a roller coaster offensively. Our pitching's been fine. Our defense has been fine until about when we opened up (region play). That's when things started going uncharacteristically wrong. (Friday) night was definitely one of those (times) where I've never seen our team play like that before.
"But Paul's got a good squad (and) we'll get it fixed."
After Norcross matched Shea's RBI double in the top of the first with Joseph Wilber's RBI single in the bottom of the inning, the Blue Devils' offensive roller coaster hit a down stretch the rest of the way, with five baserunners stranded in the first three innings.
Wages made life even more difficult for Norcross by making big pitches to get out of jams even after the Blue Devils put their lead-off hitter on in four of the first six innings.
"I think he battled all day with command," Pierce said of Wages. "He really had to work, but I was very proud of the performance. He battled for us (Friday)."
Besides Wages and Shea, the Eagles also got a good day at the plate from Adam Horridge, who went 2-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.
Wilber's RBI hit was one of the silver linings for Norcross on the day, while the Blue Devils also got two hits each by Zach Shirah, Jascanel Ferrera and Dominique Jackson.