Johnson County Longhorns continue to impress
The Johnson County Longhorns have continued to impress this year, making big wins and comebacks even in their much more laid-back summer league games. Most recently, the Longhorns took on the AAA Volunteer Falcons, both in an away game and at home. Going up against the bigger school on the Falcons own field in their first round, Johnson County got off to a rough start, ending up behind by seven runs after the first few innings, yet as Coach Nicholas Perkins pointed out, the boys steady persistence really paid off in the end. Both teams were out of pitching that night. We were down 1-7 and came back to tie it 8-8. We hit the ball, were patient at the plate, and we took our walks. We always say when you get down several runs, chip away until the game gets close, and when the game gets close, win. So thats what we did, we chipped away and finished with an 8-8 tie, again because it was summer ball and because of pitching limitations that night.
With that boost of confidence behind them, the Longhorns really came alive in the second game, this time in Mountain City. Dominating the field from the very first inning, Johnson County put on a show of consistent hitting and awesome performances in key positions. Third base in particular stood out, with several daring plays from Jon Vannoy. I was very excited about Jon, said Coach Perkins. He came to our program last year as a junior. He hadnt played in several years but he just continues to improve, work hard, and have a positive attitude. The biggest thing about third base at the high school level, you just cant be timid, cant be afraid, have to be a little gutsy over there, and it seems to work out well with what we think Jon can contribute to the team in 2013.
A strong defensive showing early on kept Volunteer from making much headway in the first five innings, even though there were several occasions where the Falcons were able to get runners on base. In fact, with the exception of a single run in the second inning, Volunteer wasnt able to score at all until the seventh inning. At the same time, Johnson Countys batting lineup was taking every opportunity to gain ground, either through walks, stolen bases, or just plain contact on the ball.
Judd Hammons was the big hitter of the evening, going 4-4 with a triple and a double to his credit. In all Hammons rounded home plate three times, in the first second, and fourth innings, and would have made another run but was caught between first and second in the sixth inning. Yet Hammons was not alone either. Jacob Henson, Jon Vannoy, Ryan Smith, Nathan Greybeal, and Adam Worley all got runs in as well, while several others managed to get as far as third.
By the end of the first inning the Longhorns were ahead 4-0, but didnt let their momentum falter, gaining two more runs in the second and another two in the fourth. However, a strong performance at bat was only one element of what turned out to be a good showing all around. According to Coach Perkins, The thing that I feel good about right now is that we are a very good situational baseball team, and thats both offense and defense. We can bunt, we can steal bases, we can hit and run, we can move runners over. Were not just a team that gets up there and swings away. We have a purpose, we have an attack, and we have a plan. Right now we are executing very well.
Perkins went on to say that one of the big pieces in the Longhorns success against Volunteer was a balanced performance from the pitchers mound by Jacob Henson. We continue to talk this summer about needing to develop pitching and needing to have pitchers step up. Jacob threw 117 pitches tonight, probably the most he has thrown in one game since his Sophomore JV season, and hes in the mix along with some of the others. He did well, said Perkins.
Although the Falcons rallied in the seventh inning with two more runs of their own, it was simply too little, too late, leaving Johnson County to claim a final 8-3 win. As the last regularly scheduled game for the summer, the Longhorns will now gear up for one more big summer event: the summer baseball camp at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. However, as Coach Perkins noted, the success of this years summer games could play a big role in some of the decisions that will be made for next season.
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