By Jonathan Pleasant
After repeatedly postponing because of inclement weather, the Johnson County Longhorns finally got the opportunity to make up a few missed games against the Hampton Bulldogs on Saturday. Playing a five-inning double header, the Longhorns went on to win the first round but came up short in the second.
With several players absent, many spots had to be filled in with younger players, giving them some much needed experience. Were missing a bunch today, said head coach Pete Pavusek. I dont have my first baseman, Ive got a new guy at second, got a freshman at short, got a guy thats not played varsity at third, and Ive got a new catcher with Blade Hampton at varsity level. There are just a lot of holes, a lot of question marks, and its time for a lot of these guys to step up.
Despite the changes in the lineup, Johnson County was able to get a good start by the second inning of the first game. Up to that point, neither team had managed to gain any ground, but once Johnson Countys offense got going they were able to generate some momentum that eventually put them ahead 5-2. With many of the seniors absent, players like Jacob Henson and River Cazire came to the forefront, both making solid hits and reaching home. Even freshmen like Alex Tressler and Samuel Icenhour were able to add their part to the win.
Not to be put out, Hampton managed two runs of their own in the third inning, but had a very hard time getting past pitcher Ryan Mahala, who had to be switched out with Jacob Henson late in the game. We just want to keep Ryans pitch count low, Pavusek said. He had a little trouble there in the fourth and he ended up getting his pitch count up. We had to get him out and put Jacob Henson in, but Jacob did really well and closed the door for us, saved the game.
Looking to make up for the loss, the Bulldogs were quick to take advantage of any opportunity in the second game. Andy Woods took over pitching for the Longhorns, striking out four Hampton batters overall, but not before the Bulldogs Mark Ailport landed a base hit that was advanced off a hit by the pitcher on the third at bat. A final drive in the first eventually sent Ailport home, giving Hampton the lead 1-0.
Johnson County tried to counter in the second, but started having trouble making contact despite advancing Sam Thomas to second after receiving a walk. It looked as though Andy Woods would put up a run in the next inning, reaching third with help from Henson, but Hamptons T.J. Hicks began throwing out a string of strikeouts that cut Johnson County short yet again.
The score was still 0-1 coming into the fifth inning, and Johnson County had high hopes of still pulling out a win. Yet, fortune did not favor the Longhorns this time around and with two more tough drives, the Bulldogs put up a final two runs to close out a 3-0 win.
Although the second game didnt go as planned, Coach Pavusek was still pleased to at least be able to claim one victory on what resulted in a strange and disappointing losing streak for Johnson County. According to the coach, A win is a win. Its better than losing. At this point well take em any way we can get em.
Johnson County 5, Hampton 2
Johnson County 0, Hampton 3
By Jonathan Pleasant