Dragons lose heart breaker to 7A HillgrovePHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports February 24, 2023
Jasper, Ga — It was a rain filled afternoon on Thursday, February 23rd as the Pickens Dragons took on the Hillgrove Hawks out of the 7A classification as part of the Pickens Mountain Classic. After having to deal with two rain delays, the game was able to be played all the way through. Fans were treated to a good one as it came down to the very last out. The Hawks, were able to hold off a late rally by the Dragons and pick up a 6-5 win.
In the top of the first, the Hawks got on base with a lead off double. The runner, would then steal 3rd, and score on a wild pitch to put Hillgrove up 1-0. Dragons starter Connor Shouse, was then able to work around a pair of walks as he struck out the side to keep the Hawks from adding on. In the bottom of the first, Shouse led off by drawing a walk. He then took 2nd as the Dragons now had a runner in scoring position. Then, the rain came.
After about a 40 minute rain delay, the game was back underway. Dawson Holland, who was up when the delay started, drew a 1-out walk. Tyler Payne, flew out to right for the second out. The bottom of the first ended with the Hawks tagging Shouse at the plate to keep it 1-0 Hillgrove going to the top of the second.
In the top of the second, the Dragons made a pitching change after Shouse and the rest of the team had to sit for 40 minutes. Enter James Tilley, who competed with the Dragons basketball team in the first round of the 3A State Tournament at Monroe Area on Wednesday. In his first inning of work, Tilley collected 2 strikeouts, and Tyler Payne threw a runner out attempting to steal 2nd to send it to the bottom half of the second inning.
In the bottom of the second, Harlan Will led off by being hit with a pitch. Trey Payne then followed that up with the Dragons first hit of the game. After Cade Sutton bunted the runners over, Evan Giddens drew a walk to load the bases. The Hawks, were able to escape the danger and get two straight fly outs to keep it 1-0 going to the top of the third.
In the top of the third, Tilley, continued the good work in his first appearance of the season as he struck out the side in between giving up a single and a walk.. The Dragons, would go down in order in the bottom half of the third. Going to the top of the fourth, Hillgrove still led Pickens, 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, Tilley gave up a 2-out double, but that would be it for the Hawks. Tilley picked up his 6th and 7th strikeout in his 3rd inning of work to keep the Hawks lead at 1-0. In the bottom of the fourth, Cade Sutton would be hit by a pitch with 2 outs, but he would be left stranded at 1st. Going to the fifth, the Hawks still maintained that slim 1-0 lead over the Dragons.
In the top of the fifth, the Hawks extended their lead as they were able to plate a run to make it 2-0. In the bottom half of the fifth, the Dragons were finally able to break through. After a 1-out double by Shouse and a 2-out walk by Holland, Tyler Payne brought in Shouse with an RBI single to make it 2-1. Sam Hammontree, who came on to hit for Will, reached on an error. That error, allowed Holland to come in and score to tie things up at 2 going to the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, the Hawks were able to take the lead right back as they scored 4 runs to take a 6-2 lead over the Dragons. In the bottom of the sixth, the Dragons would cut that lead down to 6-3 as Sutton came in to score after Trace Ledbetter reached on an error. Going to the seventh, Hillgrove led Pickens, 6-3.
In the top of the seventh, the Dragons, now on their 6th pitcher of the game, turned to Freshman Christian Starks to keep the deficit at 3. That is exactly what Starks did as he kept them scoreless on just 12 pitches. In the bottom of the seventh, Harlan Will, who checked back into the game, drew a 1-out walk. Sutton, then kept the game alive with a 2-out double. Giddens, was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kam Jenkins, who came on to pitch hit for Colby Brooks, also got hit with a pitch to bring in pitch runner Tee Knight to make it 6-4.
Shouse, on an 0-2 count, would then also be hit by a pitch to bring in Sutton to make it 6-5. The Hawks, were able to get the final out and escape the bases loaded jam with the 6-5 win.
Stats for the Dragons:
Connor Shouse: 1-3 with a walk, a double, 1 RBI, & 1 run scored
Dawson Holland: 2 walks, & 1 run scored
Tyler Payne: 1-4 with a single, & 1 RBI
Harlan Will: 1 hit by pitch, & 1 walk
Trey Payne: 1-4 with a single
Cade Sutton: 1-1 with a sacrifice bunt, 1 hit by pitch, 1 walk, 1 double, & 2 runs scored
Evan Giddens: 2 walks, & 1 hit by pitch
Kam Jenkins: 1 hit by pitch, & 1 RBI
Tee Knight: 1 run scored
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