Playing at East Tennessee State Universitys newly built Thomas Stadium, the Longhorns were blessed with an increasingly rare, warm, bright, and sunshiny evening perfect for playing ball. Unfortunately, a near complete lack of offensive action against the University High Jr. Bucs ended up costing Johnson County their first loss of the season.
After putting up 10 runs and 14 hits against Patrick Henry just the day before, it was easily apparent that the Longhorns were far from the top of their game. A long, slow battle right to the end, the Bucs pitcher was throwing out fastball after fastball, but Johnson County simply could not land decent contact on the ball. There were only three hits for the whole game, and of those Judd Hammons made two, with the third belonging to Daniel Helm.
All three hits were relatively early in the matchup, and only one resulted in an actual run as Helms shot earned him an RBI off Hammons. Hammons first hit landed him a double, but was cut short before he could reach home plate. There were also several near misses, with River Cazire taking an extremely narrow and debatable out on first.
The team did well defensively, and Cazire had the opportunity to prove his skills in the outfield as he made a nice sliding catch in the first inning. Joining him in his success was Jacob Henson who also made several good saves off University Highs pop-up fly balls, while Judd Hammons at shortstop pulled together a couple of excellent plays that kept the Bucs from advancing.
Considering that Hammons has just recovered from shoulder surgery, Head Coach Pete Pavusek was impressed with his performance. Coming off surgery, its tough to do, Pavusek said. It was a tough play, it was in the hole and it was a long throw, a long throw even for a healthy kid.
Yet, despite a strong showing that held University High to just two runs, Pavusek pointed out that mistakes on the offense were ultimately what cost the Longhorns the win. Their pitcher wasnt very good, the oach said. He threw fast balls, and we just didnt hit it. He kept on throwing fastball, fastball, fastball, and we dont hit it. They were average. We just let one slip away. Its hard to win when you only score one run. I could see that at Unicoi district tournament or Unicoi at their place and Ryan Mahala throws a great game and its one nothing, I can see stuff like that where its just two pitchers battling, but when you score one run youre not going to win very many of them. Jon Vannoy pitched well enough to win. We lost a run there on a bad call at first. Judd comes up and hits a double down the line, theres a run. We give up two on a short hop to first base, that game should have easily been two nothing us. Even though we didnt have any offense, we didnt score any runs, it could have been two nothing us.
Midway through the game the Bucs had pulled out a two-run advance and turned the tables to take the lead. Pitcher Jon Vannoy did his very best to shut University High down. Thankfully, despite playing through six innings in his very first career regular season start, varsity or JV, Vannoy did very well and the Bucs were unable to reach home a third time.
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