Jacksboro BB beats Paradise
PARADISE — Friday night’s 7-6 win over the host Panthers only solidified a question that many Jacksboro baseball followers had been asking all year:
What if the squad had been able to get a key base hit or two in a District 9-3A first round game where the Tigers lost four games by a run or two? What if some questionable calls which led to opponent comebacks had been reversed?
Despite the squad finishing with a 10-14 overall mark and 7-7 in district, the boys righted a ship that started on a 2-6 path in the loop, winning five of their last six games and evening earlier losses to everyone except Henrietta. Coach Blake Belcher contended the season could have gone better, but said he was proud of the way the team rebounded.
“I was proud of the way we played, not only tonight but in the second half of the (district) season,” Belcher commented after the 2:47 contest. “We ran the bases aggressively and had some great plays in the outfield by Fernando Piedra and Ty Kennedy to help us ball that one out.”
It was the defensive plays by Piedra and Kennedy in the late innings that helped the Tigers hold off the Panthers, who came back from an early 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead after four innings. Jacksboro would tie the game in the fifth with a two-out rally.
Piedra aided an 11-hit attack with an infield single with Caleb Nunley drawing a walk. Tyler Harmonson then stroked a single to left to plate Piedra and tie the game at six.
In the Tiger sixth, Kennedy opened with a walk and used wild pitches to come around to score and give the Tigers a 7-6 lead. Clay Botello was safe on an error but stranded as a strikeout prevented further damage.
Jacksboro threatened in the seventh, as Harmonson picked up a two-out infield single but was left following a strikeout. In the Panther 7th, a hit batter and a walk put the potential winning run aboard with one gone. Kennedy, who ended a game of “pitcher by committee” by tossing the last two innings, forced a runner at third on a fielder’s choice play and then got another runner on a grounder to third where the throw just beat the runner to first to end the game.
Jacksboro jumped all over Paradise starter Bryson Myers, scoring five runs in the first two innings. Hunter “LB” Drennan’s RBI double and a Lathan Lowrance infield single and throwing error were the keys to a 5-0 lead. Paradise scored three runs in both the third and fourth frames to take the lead.
Jacksboro will return everyone from this year’s squad, which begs the question “what could be in 2017?”