Following a string of successful scrimmages, the Johnson County Longhorns were ready for opening day as they took to the field against the Happy Valley Warriors last Monday night. Despite a valiant attempt, the Longhorns ultimately came up short 8 runs to 13, but with this being the first official game of the season, Coach Pete Pavusek seemed optimistic that his team would be able to overcome some of these early problems.
Everything was going fine, said Pavusek. We had eight runs, ten hits, but it was just the pitching. That was a real concern. I mean, we gave up eight walks and a hit batter. Thats a lot of base runners. It was just giving up seven unearned runs. Up until this game we had been having trouble hitting the ball, and then tonight we get ten hits off a decent pitcher. Chad Hodgekiss hit the ball well, and as a team I think we made good contact, but I just wish we did a better job pitching. Were still just trying to figure out what works. Its a learning process right now.
The first inning didnt look too bright for the Longhorns with Happy Valley putting in four runs early on and leaving Johnson County without any of their own runs. Fortunately the Longhorns fought back in the second and managed to put three runs on the board, largely due to some timely walks. By then Happy Valley had gained two more runs in the top of the second, leaving the score 3-6, but Johnson County wasnt nearly ready to back down.
Although pitching proved to be one of the Longhorns biggest problems of the night, they were not without a few things to be proud of either. Junior right-hander, Andy Woods, in particular, did well pitching, holding out 3 1/3 innings without surrendering an earned run, and striking out two Happy Valley batters. With strike outs by Ryan Mahala and Andy Stout, the Longhorns managed to put down a few of the Warriors but were still plagued by a number of poor pitches creating earned runs, a fact not lost on Pavusek. We just didnt play a very good game. We got in a situation where we put a lot of runners on through walks. Then they got a gap shot and scored three runs, but it was more the fact that we were putting runners on there through walks that gives me a little concern, he said.
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