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Bears claw Jaguars, 8-5
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By Rocky Merritt

COVINGTON - Not even a strong pitching performance by freshman Will Mathis could lead his team to a win Tuesday, as Georgia Perimeter College fell to Truett-McConnell, 8-5.

Despite six innings of relief work from Mathis, including 10 strikeouts, it wasn't enough for the Jaguars (11-19 overall).

"Mathis is a freshman who is steadily getting better," Jaguars coach Danny Blue said. "This was his best outing."

Prior to Mathis' mop up duties, Georgia Perimeter starting pitcher Jesse Richeson struggled from the beginning.

After singles by Recardo Billups and Cory Kirkland, freshman Eric McGee slammed a 415-foot home run over the fence with plenty of room to spare, putting the Bears up, 3-0.

"I was down 0-2 and (Richeson) gave me one down in the middle," McGee said as he recalled the at-bat. "He made a mistake, which he rarely does."

Billups added to the lead in the second inning after an RBI single, followed by a two-run double to give the Bears a 6-0 advantage.

"We finally started to swing the bats," Bears coach Jim Waits said. "We gave them a lot of walks, but then got strikes when we needed them."

It was then that Blue had seen enough, pulling his starter after one and two thirds innings. Overall, Richeson gave up six runs on four hits while getting no help from his defense, as the Jags committed two errors.

Enter Mathis, who immediately struck out McGee to get out of the inning.

Mathis continued his torrid pace on the hill by striking out three straight Bears in the top of the third frame. His speed and control stabilized the Jags, giving them a chance to crawl back into the game.

Meanwhile, Truett-McConnell starting pitcher Harley Freeman also had control problems. He walked Jason Dodson, hit Trent Freeman and walked Watson Lavigno to load the bases. However, a pop fly by Jeremy Riehn and strikeouts by Casey Young and Denver Stovall squandered the scoring opportunity for the Jags.

Nevertheless, Mathis was still throwing heat, fanning Ryan Hansen for his fifth strikeout in a row. He later picked up his sixth strikeout to end the inning.

"I felt strong and had control," Mathis said. "In the sixth, I was tired and looking at the dugout for them to warm someone up."

In the bottom of the fourth frame, Freeman still could not find the strike zone, walking Russ Cooper and Dodson in the process. Trent Freeman took advantage with a deep two-run double to center field to close the gap, 6-2.

It wasn't until the top of the fifth when Mathis gave up his first hit, a double by Cory Kirkland. However, Mathis recovered only to strikeout another three Bears, upping his total to nine punch outs.

Still, the Jags could not score in the bottom half of the inning, nor could they plate any runners in the sixth, despite Mathis recording his 10th strikeout.

Soon after Mathis was yanked, an RBI double by Clint Harrison in the eighth inning made it 7-2.

But in the bottom of the inning the Georgia Perimeter bats came alive, as Tyler Betsill tripled to make it 7-3. Cooper soon added an RBI double, followed by an RBI single by Dodson.

The Bears would add another run in the ninth, putting the pressure on the Jags to mount a comeback.

With two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, they came up short, ending the game on three consecutive strikeouts.

The Jaguars will next host Andrew College in a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Saturday.