The Longhorns came into the District 1 AA tournament with high hopes of reviving their troubled season by finally pulling off a win against the number three ranked Sullivan East Patriots. A slow start coupled with a huge early sweep from East in the first inning dug a hole that even a late game rally couldnt overcome.
Senior Jacob Henson was the first to take the mound for Johnson County, but despite some success earlier in the year, was unable to consistently land the ball past the bat. As a result, East began a series of early hits that ultimately loaded the bases and eventually ran in five batters before they could be stopped.
In an effort to change the pace of the game, JCHS coaching staff decided to put in senior Andy Woods, which assistant Coach Nicholas Perkins felt was a necessary move. We thought that Jacob Henson was going to give us a good start and he had the ability to do so, but it just didnt happen tonight, Perkins said. Andy Woods pitched tremendous in relief. He gave us quality innings and gave us the chance to win and thats all you can ask out of your bullpen. Andy Woods pitched well. You ask your bullpen to hold us where were at and give us a chance and he did that.
The Patriots were still able to run in one more batter at the beginning of the second, but before long Woods hit his stride and shut East down for the remainder of the game. With the defense now back in control, the Longhorns turned their focus to the offense in a solid effort to overcome the patriots huge initial lead.
While there were numerous hits spread throughout all seven innings, very few actually resulted in complete runs. Senior Daniel Helm made two solid connections on the ball, but only one of those was advanced to home, while Jon Vannoy also had two hits but never actually made it past third even though he did earn two RBIs.
In fact, it was the fifth inning before any of Johnson Countys batters were able to put their team on the scoreboard. As Coach Perkins pointed out, numerous strikeouts and a few well-placed catches by the patriots stole more than one opportunity to make some much-needed runs. We left a small village on base today, Perkins said. If we had gotten a couple of big hits early then we win the baseball game. Ultimately the objective is to win, but we fell a little short. We did keep fighting there is no doubt about that, but its hard to come back from a five or six run deficit. Its tough to put yourself in that big of a hole early in the game.
Despite that fact, the Longhorns were still able to put up three runs in the fifth and cut the lead back to three. An unsuccessful sixth inning put even more pressure to pull out a final effort in the seventh, but this was made more complicated as the Patriots pushed through one last batter to give them seven.
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