Following a couple of devastating losses at the hands of the Unicoi County Blue Devils and the Elizabethton Cyclones, Johnson Countys baseball team bounced back in a big way in a trio of late week wins. The turnaround began with a huge upset over a very talented Fellowship of Christian Athletes Travel team, the FCA Flames. Made up of players from all over the Tricities region, the Longhorns didnt really know what to expect but the final outcome was very positive never the less.
The first three innings of the game were very evenly matched with both sides seeing numerous hits as well as strikeouts. Sophomore Adam Worley tried his hand from the mound striking out three batters with 50 strikes out of 62 pitches total. Two of those three ks came in the first two innings with the fielders providing plenty of back up. Despite getting on base three times, the Flames could not get past first. The Longhorns had a little better luck early on, with Worley leading off with a double and eventually reaching third before being stranded.
The second inning was a little more successful when Daniel Livorsi was finally batted in off a hit by Jose Guzman. A second run came at the start of the third when Nick Whitener got on base thanks to an error and eventually earned Payton Fenner an RBI from a grounder into left field. Now ahead 2-0 it was still anybodys game coming into the fourth, but no one could have predicted the huge sweep that the Longhorns orchestrated in their next at bat. With the bases loading up on hit after consecutive hit, every single batter in the lineup completed at least one run in the fourth inning and senior Sam Thomas landed the biggest hit of all when he nailed a homer on his second time around.
Gaining an amazing 11 runs, that single inning was possibly the biggest sweep that the Longhorns have had all season. A big part of it was a double that earned Nathaniel Graybeal three RBIs on Logan Sargent, Payton Fenner, and Nick Whitener, but no one could doubt the offensive talent that Johnson County displayed across the board. With that huge blowout, the Flames never recovered. Although they were able to put up a couple runs toward the end of the fifth it wasnt enough to overcome the massive damage that had already been done.
It was a good game, said Coach Pete Pavusek. The first four innings it was 2-2. They started getting bats rolling and we got one hit, then another hit. We just kind of got a good roll, got a spark going there and once we started hitting then it seemed like everybody started hitting. It was kind of contagious. It was good for Sam Thomas. He got a shot out there in left center field, about the hardest place to hit one out. Theyre very talented. Their short stop is a great ball player, second baseman is good. I knew that from the get go. Theyre very athletic, good-looking kids and I was nervous at the start. It was a good game. 2-2 in the fourth inning, it was a great game to start out.
In a much better mood following that win, the Longhorns took on the Highlanders Friday night and dominated from the first inning. Johnson County landed 14 hits in all and 17 runs. Once again everyone in the lineup managed at least one run with many like Nick Whitener going three for four. Blade Hampton knocked a double into left field during the third and earned an RBI off of Alex Calderon. Nathaniel Graybeal finished with four RBIs on the night gaining two in the second and two more in the third. Overall it was a near perfect offensive game.
Fortunately the defense was just about as successful with Logan Sargent delivering 8 strikeouts while the defense provided excellent support that kept Cloudland off base in all but two innings. Only one of those three total hits actually resulted in a run, wrapping up the win in the fifth inning 17-1. The final game of the week was actually a JV bout against a very talented lineup from Unicoi County.
Focusing on specific plays and techniques, Coach Nicholas Perkins was proud of his teams efforts as they pulled out a 6-2 win by the end of the game. Among the many notable plays, Jake Bower executed a delayed steal, the Longhorns executed a bunt and run with Payton Fenner at second base and Logan Sargent managed a first base hit on a bunt. Sophomore Adam Worley had really good game bringing in two of Johnson Countys first runs on a walk and a single, and then got a third run on a drive in the seventh.
In all it was a good way to finish up what ultimately turned out to be a pretty solid showing.