Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Errors cost Horns first game of tourney

The Longhorns played one of their best games this season under the bright lights of Dobyns-Bennett High School’s J. Fred Johnson Stadium last Friday night. Taking on the Elizabethton Cyclones in their first round of the District 1-AA tournament, Johnson County put up a tremendous offensive fight that saw them take the lead by the fifth inning. A couple of extraordinarily critical errors in the bottom of the sixth gave the Cyclones just enough leeway to not only take back control of the game but also to put up the couple of necessary runs to claim a victory.
The game actually started off fairly slow for both teams. Elizabethton was able to get on the board first with a pair of back to back doubles in the first inning, but despite having another two runners get on base, the Longhorns were finally able to gain a third out by catching a first base runner on his way to second. Johnson County held the Cyclones through the next inning and then gave up two more runs in the third with another runner left standing.
Now trailing 4-0, the Longhorns desperately needed some strong contact at bat, and got just what they were wishing for coming into the top of the fourth. Beginning with a hit by the pitcher for Payton Fenner, Johnson County started into a sweep that didn’t stop until five runners had made it back around to home plate. Sam Thomas and Logan Sargent both got singles, while Blade Hampton managed one of the biggest hits of the night, a line drive down the middle that lacked just a matter of inches from becoming a home run. That shot gave Hampton two RBIs off of both Sargent and Jake Sutherland who got on with a walk.
Having gone through two pitchers already, Elizabethton finally got lucky with Dylan Richardson who effectively ended the inning with two quick strikeouts. Much to the Cyclones discomfort, Johnson County was still able to claim the lead, 5-4 although two more Elizabethton drives in the bottom of the fourth quickly took it back.
Not to be outdone with so much on the line, the Longhorns bounced back with another huge sweep in the 5th, this time starting off with a hit from Sam Thomas followed up by a couple of walks on Nick Whitener and Blade Hampton. Although he eventually was tagged out on his way from third, the real critical hit of that inning went to Nathaniel Graybeal who nailed a single into right field and earned himself two RBIs. Now once again in the lead 8-6 with only two innings left it was looking like fans might see a repeat of 2012s conference upset.
This was not to be so as in both the sixth and the seventh the Cyclone defense was either able to make the necessary catches or, as with the last two batters in the game, simply threw out the right number of strikes. Even then, with a complete lack of success on the offense late in the game Johnson County could have still won had they been able to keep Elizabethton off base. Up to the sixth there really hadn’t been any serious errors, but it was then at the worst possible time that mistakes happened.
Elizabethton was able to make up one run in the fifth off a hit down the center, but that was only enough to cut the lead to 7-8. Then, with the game on the line, Johnson County made the only two errors that Elizabethton needed to push through three runners. One was a missed catch in right field, the other a miscue on a play at first, but together with a hit from the pitcher it was enough to take the Longhorn’s lead and turn it into a devastating two run deficit.
Going from one of the most surprisingly solid performances this whole year to its biggest loss in one swoop, Coach Pete Pavusek was understandably frustrated. “When you make mistakes at critical moments you’re going to get beat no matter who it is,” Pavusek said. “It’s tournament time. You have to play your hardest. You have nothing to lose. You go all out. Right now there is no tomorrow. You play as hard as you have, hard as you can. There is nothing left. You have to leave it all on the field. We’ve been in big ball games before. It’s where we want to be. I wasn’t surprised a bit. By the end you want to have a chance to win. That’s what we preach. Every game all season long, just give us a chance at the end that’s all we want, but you can’t make errors, not in the big ball games.”