Dragons sweep Spartans behind combined no hitter

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Jasper, Ga — It was a beautiful day for high school baseball on Thursday, March 21st as the Pickens Dragons hosted the Spartans of West Hall for the final game of their three game region series. The Dragons, had already won the series by virtue of sweeping a double header on Tuesday, March 19th, and were looking for the series sweep. Prior to the game, the youth baseball teams from the Pickens County rec department were recognized. Behind a combined no hitter from A.J. Rice and Cason Cannon, the Dragons came away with a 6-1 win.


In the top of the first, Rice, needed only 9 pitches to get three outs as he picked up 2 fly outs and his first strikeout. In the bottom half of the inning, Connor Shouse, led off with a single. Trey Payne, would move Shouse over to 2nd with a grounder. As Shouse was attempting to steal 3rd, Cade Sutton hit a grounder to the 3rd baseman. Shouse, never stopped running on the play and would score to make it 1-0 Dragons going to the second inning.


In the top of the second, Rice, worked around a 1-out error and walk to get out of the inning. Rice, picked up his 2nd and 3rd strikeout of the game during the top half of the frame. The 3rd out came after the runner at 2nd was caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out at 3rd. In the bottom of the frame, the Dragons would go down in order on two pop outs and a ground out. Going to the third, Pickens led West Hall, 1-0.


In the top of the third, Rice, needed only 7 pitches to record three outs as he forced three ground outs to send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the third, Shouse, would again lead off with a single. The Spartans, would erase that as they forced a double play. The Dragons, looked for some 2-out magic as Sutton laced a single and Kam Jenkins drew a walk, but the Spartans got a fly out to send it to the fourth with Pickens leading West Hall, 1-0.


In the top of the fourth, the Spartans, got their lead off man on as he was hit by a pitch. He would then steal 2nd to get into scoring position. After a grounder to 1st advanced the runner to 3rd, Rice, picked up his 4th strikeout for the 2nd out. The Spartans, would tie the game as the runner from 3rd would come in to score on a wild pitch. Rice, would pick up his 5th strikeout to send it to the bottom of the fourth with the score now tied at 1.

In the bottom of the fourth, Tyler Payne, would lead off with a single. The Spartans, would pick off his pitch runner Daven Abernathy for the first out. Trace Ledbetter, would then be hit by a pitch to put him on with 1-out. The Spartans, would get out of the fourth after back to back ground outs. Going to the fifth, Pickens and West Hall were tied at 1.


In the top half of the fifth, Rice, would strikeout the side, giving him 8 on the night to send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the frame, Shouse, drew a lead off walk to get on base. He would then steal 2nd as he tied the single season mark for stolen bases. Trey Payne, would advance Shouse over to 3rd with a bunt. Sutton, would bring in Shouse with an RBI double to give the Dragons a 2-1 lead.

Jenkins, would follow that up with a single to put runners at the corners with 1-out. Jenkins courtesy runner, JP Nunn, was able to somehow escape a rundown and advance to 2nd. Tyler Payne, extended the lead as he drove in both Sutton and Nunn with a 2-RBI double to make it 4-1 Dragons going to the sixth.


In the top of the sixth, Rice picked up his 9th strikeout for the first out. After a walk and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position, 2nd baseman James Tilley made a great play in the outfield grass as he made the catch for the second out. A hit batsman would put runners a 1st and 2nd with 2-out. After a little bit of a discussion, Rice, was relieved by Cason Cannon. Cannon, needed just 1 pitch to get out of the inning and send it to the bottom of the sixth.

In the bottom half of the sixth, Christian Starks would lead off with a double. An error in the outfield, would allow Starks to score as Rice would end up at 2nd on the play. After a sacrifice bunt by Shouse that advanced Rice to 3rd, Trey Payne would bring in Rice with an RBI ground out to make it 6-1 Dragons going to the seventh.


Cannon, came back out for the top of the seventh to try and finish the game off. After giving up a walk and hitting a batter to begin the top half of the inning, Cannon settled down to strikeout two and force a pop out to Shouse as the Dragons take game three, 6-1 to sweep the region series.


Stats for the Dragons:

Connor Shouse: 2-2 with 2 singles, 1 walk, 1 stolen base, 1 sacrifice bunt, and 2 runs scored

Trey Payne: 1 sacrifice bunt and 1 RBI

Cade Sutton: 2-3 with a single, a double, 1 walk, 2 RBI, and 1 run scored

Kam Jenkins: 3-3 with 3 singles, and 1 walk

Tyler Payne: 2-3 with a single, a double, and 2 RBI

Trace Ledbetter: 1 hit by pitch

Christian Starks: 1-3 with a double and 1 run scored

A.J. Rice: 1 run scored (5.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 9 K on 88 pitches)

JP Nunn: 1 run scored

Cason Cannon: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 K on 22 pitches


7-AAA Baseball Standings:

Pickens: 15-3 (8-1)

Dawson: 12-5 (6-3)

Lumpkin: 9-8 (5-4)

White County: 10-8 (2-4)

Wesleyan: 5-9 (2-4)

Gilmer: 8-8 (2-4)

West Hall: 4-14 (2-7)


The Dragons, will remain in 7-AAA play next week as they begin a series with their 515 rivals, the Gilmer Bobcats. Due to impending weather next week, Game one of the series will be at Gilmer on Monday, March 25th with a first pitch time of 6 pm. Games two and three will be played in Jasper on Thursday, March 28th, and Friday, March 29th.

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