SPORTS RECAP: Mimbs fires complete game to beat Brantley County, send Falcons into region play on two-game win streak

The Courier Herald – March 16, 2021

     Ryan Mimbs carried the East Laurens Falcons to victory both on the mound, and in the metaphorical battle of wills that unfolded in the late innings of a non-region battle with Brantley County Friday night. 
   The senior ace did what he's known for doing on the hill, striking out 12 over a resilient complete-game outing, all while cutting it dangerously close to his limit in total pitches before recording three pressure-packed outs with the tying run at third in the seventh inning. 
   But Mimbs, who doubles as his team's leading encourager, also helped lift and maintain the Falcons' morale ahead of Trey Barwick's two-out RBI in the bottom of the sixth that put them on top by the 6-5 score that became the night's final. 
   He dismounted his night-long post on the rubber in the middle of the sixth after throwing up a scoreless frame for the first time all night, and grabbed a seat just outside the entrance of the East Laurens dugout to await his upcoming at-bat and cheer on several of his teammates who were up to start the bottom half. 
   With the score tied 5-5, Mimbs' confident assurance, even after two quick outs, maintained that it wasn't a matter of if the Falcons would get the run they needed to pull in front, it was a matter of when. 
   Tex Edge drew a walk to get aboard before Mimbs also worked a free-pass, putting runners on first and second for Barwick. The junior, with two strikes in the count, notched the hit he needed, threading a grounder inside third and into the left-field corner to bring home Edge for the go-ahead run. 
   The margin for Mimbs was a slim one on the scoreboard, and in the pitch count, with only around 16 left before reaching a GHSA-imposed maximum of 110 for the night. 
   "That's all I need," he could be heard saying from the on-deck circle between innings. 
   And Mimbs delivered in confident fashion, but not without things coming right down to the wire. He hit leadoff batter Walker Gill, who stole his way to second before an infield pop fly got the Falcons their first out. A wild pitch in the next AB advanced Gill to third, but Mimbs recovered and got a comebacker off the bat of Britian Florey, going to first for the second out. 
   And it couldn't have come one pitch later, with his count now run up to 109. Just one shy of the cap, he'd be allowed to begin and complete one more at-bat before a mandatory pitching change. He won a lengthy duel with Colby Shuman to get the final out on a soft grounder to Edge at second base, who ended the game on a routine toss to first. 
   Mimbs' effort, despite giving up five runs on 11 hits and a handful of walks, took East Laurens over the top down the stretch. The Brantley County scoring was contained to single runs in innings one through five leading up to zeros for the senior right-hander in the last two. 
   "I told Ryan that may be the game of his life," said East Laurens head coach Gene Mulkey. "Ryan, to me, was confident from pitch one to the end. And we had to really really watch the pitch count right there at the end, 'cause he was up there. He did a really good job. I thought he kept his composure really really well. He's a coach on the field." 
   The thrilling, and at times frustrating, win for the Falcons (3-3 overall) gave them a second in a row leading into their region opener next Tuesday. Brantley County (0-10) entered and left Friday's matchup in East Dublin winless on the season, though against a relentlessly-tough non-region schedule that's included top 10 clubs Charlton County, Wayne County and Prince Avenue Christian. 
   "Tonight was a huge win for us," Mulkey said. "I just told the guys down there that I think that's the best baseball team we've played all year… To get two wins in a week before region is very big. But to beat a caliber of baseball team that that is going into the region is huge." 
   The victory, however, definitely won't go down as the Falcons' prettiest. 
   East Laurens dug an early hole on a night when its bats and gloves were a few innings late to arrive. Mimbs was able to keep things mostly under control, though the Herons went up 3-0 before the Falcons found the scoreboard and tied the game with three runs in the bottom half of the third. 
   Brantley County re-took the lead, and extended it to two at 5-3, with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. 
   The Falcons tied things back up with two in the bottom half, chasing the Herons' Bryson Lee from the ballgame after a Mimbs base hit, a Barwick walk and Chase Donaldson's double to center, driving in Mimbs for a first run. 
   Nathan Willis took over and proceeded to strike out the side, getting through East's Lync Pope and Jerrett Stewart before fanning Kelton Mullis for the third out, but not before Barwick came home to tie the score on a wild pitch. 
   Donaldson led East Laurens at the plate with three hits and two RBIs.
   "We came in a little flat, and that was my major concern coming in," Mulkey said. "I could tell when we got here we were flat. We were flat when we got on the field. We were flat during infield/outfield. But it says a lot for those kids to change that. It's not me, it's not another coach, it's those kids busting their tail and staying in the game and paying attention to stuff." 
   That newfound edge remained into the seventh, when the East Laurens lineup remained composed even with two outs, and came through with the base hit to untie the game and hand Mimbs a lead with three outs left to get. 
   "We had kind of changed gears," Mulkey said. "We had come from the flat zone to the zone that we needed to be in to stay in a baseball game like this. It seemed that once we got where we needed to be, the confidence never left. We knew we can beat this baseball team and they buckled down and they did it. getting that run to go ahead was humongous." 
   The Falcons, for now, begin a week off before the start of 2-AA action in a three-game set with Bacon County next Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Some potential exists for East Laurens to add a matchup at some point this week, though no games had been announced at press time Monday.