The Longhorns wrapped up their short summer baseball season with a four game tournament hosted by Sullivan North High School in Kingsport. Playing two evening double headers, Johnson County came out Tuesday night against the Sullivan North Raiders followed by a huge game against the Sullivan Central Cougars. Coming back Thursday, the Longhorns met a little known opponent in the Eastside High Spartans from Coeburn, Virginia and then finished up with a huge win against Cloudland.
The tournament was timed with each game lasting no more than two hours and resulted in two ties in the games with Eastside and Central. The Cougars in particular proved to have a very talented group of players and came out in the first few innings with a major 10-3. A switch in Centrals pitching staff proved to be their undoing as the Longhorns took advantage of defensive missed cues and managed some luck with the offense to pick up the seven runs they needed before time was called.
That uplifting game came right on the heels of a troubling one run loss at the hands of Sullivan North. Both teams were neck and neck throughout the game but it only took one good inning in the top of the sixth for North to finally take the lead. With no real advancements in answer, the Longhorns walked away with their first but only loss of the tournament. Even so, Coach Nicholas Perkins still found plenty in all of the games to be proud of.
Ive mentioned previously about the fact that some of our guys already have more playing time than they had in the regular season even with the JV, but its really the nature of the playing time, Perkins said. Guys were in difficult situations, they were up to bat or on the base in close games, they were given signs, they were asked to execute plays. It wasnt just the fact that they were getting to play; it was the nature of their playing time. For example, in the four tournament games we executed five suicide squeeze bunts. Nicholas Whitener, who has always been one of the better hitters on every team hes played for but has hardly ever been asked to bunt, executed a suicide squeeze, as did Logan Sargent, Bailie Epperly, freshman McClain Carlton, and sophomore Devon Lewis, who told us he wanted to improve as a bunter. He was talking about sacrifice bunts and here during the summer he lays down a suicide squeeze. It was just great execution of our offense putting pressure on the defense and guys seem to have fun playing that style and being put in those situations.
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