Dragons season ends in Sweet 16PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports May 2, 2023
Jasper, Ga — It was a beautiful, windy day on Monday, May 1st as the Pickens Dragons hosted the Gordon Lee Trojans at Dunn Field for the third game of their best of three series in the Sweet 16 of the GHSA 3A Baseball State Tournament. In the end, it would be the visitors getting the win as the Trojans came away with a 3-0 victory.
In the top of the first, Dragons starter A.J. Rice, had a clean start to the game with his 1st strikeout, a fly out, and a ground out. In the bottom of the first, Trey Payne would reach on a 2-out walk, but would be left stranded and they would head to the second with the score all knotted up at 0.
In the top of the second, after getting the 1st out on the first pitch of the inning, Rice, would give up back to back 1-out singles. Rice, worked out of that jam as he picked up his 2nd strikeout and a ground out to send it to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the second, Dawson Holland, would lead off with a single. He would advance to 2nd on the same play after an error to give the Dragons their first runner in scoring position.
A sacrifice bunt by Kam Jenkins, advanced Holland over to 3rd with only 1-out. The Trojans, were able to get out of their first jam of the game as they got a pop up and a fly out to center to keep Holland from scoring and send it to the third, still tied at 0.
In the top of the third, the Trojans, would get a 1-out triple to put a runner in scoring position. That runner would come in to score after a close play at the plate as the ball got by Jenkins, his throw to Rice was nearly in time for the tag. After a ground out to 3rd for the second out, the Trojans were looking to add to their lead as they reached with an error and a single. Rice, got out of the jam with just the 1 run to send it to the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Colby Brooks led off with a single. Connor Shouse, would then reach on a fielder’s choice as Brooks would be thrown out at 2nd for the first out. Trace Ledbetter, would then draw a walk on four straight pitches to put runners at 1st and 2nd with 1-out. A line drive by Trey Payne looked to be falling in left center field, but a diving catch was made for the second out. Shouse, had to scramble back to 2nd to avoid being doubled up.
The Trojans, got out of the threat with a ground out to send it to the fourth with Gordon Lee Leading Pickens, 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, Rice, settled down after a 22-pitch third inning to get the Trojans in order with a fly out and 2 ground outs. In the bottom of the fourth, the Dragons, would also go down in order after a strikeout and 2 ground outs to send it to the fifth with the Trojans still leading, 1-0.
In the top of the fifth, Rice, needed 9 pitches for a 1-2-3 frame as he forced 2 pop ups and a fly out to send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, the Dragons, again couldn’t get anything going as they went down in order after a fly out, a strikeout, and a ground out. Going to the sixth, the Trojans were still ahead, 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Trojans, led off with a double. Rice, would get the first out of the inning after his 3rd strikeout. Gordon Lee, added to their lead as they would score 2 runs on three straight hits to make it 3-0. Rice, did a good job of limiting the damage to just 2 runs as he picked up his 4th strikeout and a ground out to send it to the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the offensive woes continued for the Dragons as they went down in order with a fly out, a strikeout, and a ground out to send it to the seventh with the Trojans now leading, 3-0.
In the top of the seventh, JP Nunn, came on in relief of Rice to try to keep it a 3 run game. Nunn, worked around a 2-out walk as he got three fly outs in a scoreless top half of the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Holland, led off with a single as the Dragons had their first base runner since the third inning. After getting a fly out for the first out, the Trojans were able to turn a double play to secure the win, 3-0.
Stats for the Dragons:
Trace Ledbetter: 1 walk
Trey Payne: 1 walk
Dawson Holland: 2-3 with 2 singles
Kam Jenkins: 1 sacrifice bunt
Colby Brooks: 1-2 with a single
A.J. Rice: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K on 93 pitches
JP Nunn: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB on 12 pitches
A historic and record setting season is now in the books for the Pickens Dragons baseball team. The 2023 team set a record for most wins in a season (29), the first region championship, most strikeouts in a season. There were several individual records broken as well as Junior Connor Shouse broke the single season and career RBI record. Junior JP Nunn, broke the career saves record.
The Dragons, will return a bulk of their team in 2024 as Seniors Colby Brooks, Evan Giddens, Tee Knight, and Harlan Will will move on to the next chapter in their lives. Three of them, Giddens, Knight, and Will, have committed to play baseball in college up till this point.
With a bulk of their team coming back next season, and the JV and Junior High teams having very successful season in their own right, the Dragons could be set up to keep this run going for a bit. We will see what the future holds next season. Until then, congrats to the Pickens Dragons on a fantastic 2023 season.
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