The recent and surprising JCHS varsity losing streak slump continued through last week as the team came up short in three big home game showings against the Sullivan North Golden Raiders, Sullivan East Patriots, and Unicoi Blue Devils.
The first game of the week against East could have been one of the biggest wins for the Longhorns this season, making exception for an intense first inning Raider offensive drive that Johnson County simply could not overcome. Defensive errors and simple bad luck allowed East to kick off with an astounding eight runs that gave them a decided advantage. Despite the fact that this big of a setback would have almost certainly devastated anyone elses chances at a win, the Longhorns put up such a good late game that many fans held their breath for a miracle win.
Putting up three runs in the first and four more in the second, Johnson County almost leveled the playing field, with the strong senior leadership finally stepping up on the offense. Daniel Helm, Ryan Mahala, and Jacob Henson all managed to earn two runs each by the end of the night, with River Cazire going on to make three.
Despite the steady advances, the Longhorn defense couldnt hold East back, even though pitcher Jacob Henson had possibly one of his best career showings on the mound. Throwing out nearly the first five innings, Henson had only three hits and one walk against him while striking out four of Easts batters. All three of those hits turned into runs and as Henson himself pointed out, even playing a huge offensive game did not prove to be enough. That first inning really killed us, the pitcher said. They just came out swinging really hard and we couldnt stop them. We hit very well today, but just not enough. Well get into the groove and start winning some games. Weve had some injuries, some people have been gone for various reasons, but I think once everyone comes together were going to start pulling it in and start playing like Johnson County should be playing.
Johnson County didnt have much time to recover from their first tough loss before rounding into their second game Tuesday night. Though not nearly to the scale of East, North was also quick to pick up an early run and set the momentum for the game. The strong Longhorn offense from the night before was gone against the Patriots notorious pitching staff, and while their opponents steadily climbed on the scoreboard with one run in the third and fourth in the sixth, Johnson County was unable to land a solid hit until the fifth inning.
Ironic, considering last years veteran performance, the only run of the night actually came from freshman Alex Tressler who has already proven to be a big asset to the Longhorns this year. That run aside, Johnson County had only a handful of hits for the game, and most of those on younger players. In all, Blade Hampton, Payton Fenner, River Cazire and Judd Hammons were the only runners to take base. North continued their steady rise and by the end of the night, Johnson County was disappointed to walk away with a 7-1 loss.
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