The JCHS baseball team traveled to Jonesborough for an evening double header against the David Crockett Pioneers last Thursday and managed to pull out split results with a huge upset win in game one followed by a tough loss in game two. Although it was a summer ball matchup, the Pioneers are always very competitive, making the Longhornssuccess a big deal especially for the players that dont get to see a lot of action during the regular season.
Any time Johnson County High School plays David Crocket High School, were playing good competition, said Coach Nicholas Perkins. Regardless of whether its a young squad of theirs or a veteran squad of theirs, they are well coached and a solid team. We have a good relationship with their baseball coaches and always enjoy the competition.
With several players involved in other sports or away on vacation, the summer team is always an eclectic mix of incoming freshmen, sophomore junior varsity players, and some returning veterans. Many times there are only just enough players present to field a complete team, yet rather than see this as a bad thing, Johnson Countys coaching staff looks at it as an opportunity to teach and help improve the skills of some of the programs lesser known athletes.
We always try to offer a summer program for guys who want to play, guys who want to get better, Perkins said. We have several who dont get a lot of publicity, a lot of acclaim. Guys like Alex Calderon, Brandan Cox, Bailie Epperly, Mikey Barnes are so appreciated. They are always at practice, at games, working hard. Without them we couldnt play in the summer. I just want to say I appreciate our players that dont get a lot of publicity. They are an important part of this team and we really couldnt do it without them. Thats what summer ball is about, getting repetitions. We have guys who already have more at bats in a short summer season than they did in the high school regular season. Its about getting better, and its about us as a high school program giving these guys a chance.
The opportunity to shine was present in a big way in the Longhorns first game against Crockett. Falling behind early 2-0, Johnson County managed to get on the board midway through the game with a couple of runs thanks to some timely hitting by a few of the freshmen like Shane Greer and Gabe Reece. The Pioneers bounced back with a combination of walks, a couple of good bunts, and just enough critical hits to be able to put up two more runs leaving the score 4-2.
In a five inning game, Johnson County was left with their backs to the wall coming into the bottom of the fourth, but thanks in part to an amazing job from the mound by Daniel Livorsi who pitched a three-inning shutout in relief, Crockett was kept away from reaching home plate down the stretch. Down by two and looking at their last at bat, the Longhorns started the fifth inning at the top of the lineup with Adam Worley. The teams only senior, Worley nailed a first base drive followed up by another crucial hit from freshman McClain Carlton.
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