Dragons sweep Luella, earn first trip to Sweet 16

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Jasper, Ga — After sweeping the Ridgeland Panthers last week, the Pickens Dragons earned the #2 seed for 7-AAAA. For the first time in school history, the Dragons would be hosting a playoff series as they welcomed the #3 seed out of region 5, the Luella Lions. The 4A State Baseball Tournament format is a doubleheader on one day, and if needed, a third and final game the next day. Two wins advances you to the next round. The Dragons, had outstanding pitching in both games on Wednesday, April 27th, and the bats weren’t bad either as they swept the Lions in the doubleheader, 16-1 and 12-1.

 

Game 1:

Trey Payne took the mound for the Dragons in game 1 of the best of 3 series and he was fantastic. Payne, got the Lions in order with a strikeout, a pop out, and a fly out to left field on 12 pitches to send it to the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the first, the designated hitter Sam Hammontree, led off with a double. Hammontree, would then advance to 3rd on a grounder by Trace Ledbetter. Anthony Antinozzi would drive in Hammontree on another grounder to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead going to the second.

 

In the top of the second, Payne picked up where he left off in the first as he again sat Luella down in order on 11 pitches. In the bottom half of the second, Payne led off by reaching on an error by the center fielder. After a pop out and a fly out, James Tilley drew a walk to reach 1st. Colby Brooks, then laced a single into the outfield as both courtesy runner Tee Knight and Tilley would come around to score to make it 3-0 Dragons. Hammontree, then hit another double, this one scoring Brooks to make it 4-0 Pickens going to the third.

 

In the top of the third, Payne got the bottom third of the Lions lineup in order on 11 pitches to send the Dragons bats back up to the plate. In the bottom of the third, Pickens broke things open. Using 6 hits, a couple of errors, and several stolen bases, the Dragons scored 7 runs in the bottom of the third to make it 11-0 going to the the fourth.

 

In the top of the fourth, Luella got it’s only hit and run of the game off of a solo home run. The Lions, would also draw a 2-out walk, but Payne would get the next batter to pop up to Evan Giddens on the next pitch to send it to the bottom of the fourth with Pickens leading, 11-1. In the bottom of the fourth, Cade Sutton reached on a 1-out walk. Giddens, then drove him in with an RBI single. Tilley, then reached on a single of his own. Brooks, would drive in both Giddens and Tilley with a 2 RBI single to make it 14-1. With 2 outs, Ledbetter stepped to the plate. On a 1-0 count, he would smack one over the left field wall for a 2-run home run and to walk off game one giving the Dragons a 16-1 win.

 

Game 2:

For game 2 of the best of 3 series, the Dragons were designated the “away” team, and the Lions were designated the “home” team. In the top of the first, the Dragons carried over their hot bats from game 1 as Sam Hammontree led off with a double. Trace Ledbetter would drive him in with an RBI single. Anthony Antinozzi, then drew a walk. After Ledbetter advanced to 3rd, the Dragons did a double steal as Antinozzi took 2nd, and Ledbetter came home on the throw to 2nd to make it 2-0. Antinozzi, was then able to tag up and advance to 3rd after a fly ball to right field by Harlan Will. Antinozzi, came in to score on a sacrifice by Trey Payne to make it 3-0 Pickens going to the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the first, Dragons starter JP Nunn, got into a bit of a jam as he issued a 1-out walk and then the next batter would reach on an error to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Nunn, was able to shake it off and pick up his 1st and 2nd strikeout of the game to send it to the second with the Dragons ahead, 3-0.

 

In the top of the second, Pickens got hits from Hammontree, Antinozzi, and Will as they plated 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 errors to stretch the lead out to 7-0 going to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the second, Nunn had a less stressful half inning as he picked up his 3rd and 4th strikeout and sat the Lions down on just 9 pitches. Going to the third, the Dragons led Luella, 7-0.

 

In the top of the third, James Tilley reached on an error by the 3rd baseman with 2-out to keep the inning alive. Colby Brooks, drove in Tilley with a double to make it 8-0 Pickens going to the bottom of the third. In the bottom of the third, Nunn kept rolling as he picked up his 5th and 6th strikeout of the game and sent it to the fourth with the Dragons leading, 8-0.

 

In the top of the fourth, Ledbetter led off with a walk. After Antinozzi flew out to right, Will drew a walk. Payne, brought in both runs with a base hit to make it 10-0. After a fly out by Sutton, Giddens drew a walk. Tilley, would then bring in Payne with an RBI single to make it 11-0. Brooks, followed that up with an RBI single of his own as Giddens would come in to score. Going to the bottom of the fourth, Pickens led Luella, 12-0. In the bottom of the fourth, the Lions got on the board again with a solo home run to make it 12-1. Luella followed that up with a little bloop hit down the right field line. Payne, patrolling right, got to the ball and threw a strike to Tilley covering 2nd to get the runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Nunn, did the rest of the work in the fourth as he picked up his 7th and 8th strikeout to send it to the fifth with the Dragons up, 12-1.

 

In the top of the fifth, the Dragons brought in some substitutions to get an at bat. First up, Cason Cannon, who sent a shot right back where it came from, but was caught by the pitcher. After a line out to right by Stephens, Jackie Jarrett drew a 2-out walk. He would be left stranded at 1st as the Lions got a strikeout to send it to the bottom of the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, Ledbetter came on to try to finish this game off. After striking out the first two batters looking, the Lions were able to draw a 2-out walk. Not fazed by the walk, Ledbetter struck out the next batter looking to seal the win 12-1, and send the Dragons to the Sweet 16.

 

Up next for the Dragons, a date with the Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets in the Sweet 16. The Yellow Jackets, are the #1 seed out of region 1. They swept New Hampstead in the first round. This will be the Dragons first ever trip to the Sweet 16 of the state baseball tournament. Games 1 and 2 are set for Tuesday, May 3rd and the “if” game is set for May 4th. Times are to be determined.

Dragons sweep series with Southeast Whitfield

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Jasper, Ga — After defeating the Raiders on Tuesday, 13-1, the Pickens Dragons welcomed Southeast Whitfield to Dunn Field for games 2 and 3 of the series on Friday, April 8th. After a tough stretch that included a 4 game losing skid, the Dragons looked to sweep the Raiders and keep pace near the top of the 7-AAAA standings. Using timely pitching in game 2, and hot bats in game 3, the Dragons did indeed pick up the sweep.

 

Game 2:

Trey Payne started for the Dragons in game 2 of the series. After giving up a 1-out solo home run, Payne settled down and sent it to the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the first, Trace Ledbetter and Anthony Antinozzi both reached on 1-out walks. Harlan Will, then reached on an error, which allowed both Ledbetter and Antinozzi to score. Trey Payne then laced a double into the outfield to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. The Raiders, were able to force two consecutive pop outs to get out of the inning. Going to the second, Pickens led Southeast Whitfield, 2-1.

 

In the top of the second, Payne worked around a pair of walks as he picked up his first two strikeouts of the game to send us to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the second, Evan Giddens reached with a 1-out single and Ledbetter reached with a 2-out walk. They would be left stranded however as the Raiders once  again forced a fly out to end the inning and keep it 2-1 Dragons going to the third.

 

In the top of the third, Southeast Whitfield retook the lead using two hits and two walks to plate 2 runs to make it 3-2 Raiders. In the bottom of the third, Pickens went down in order. Going to the top of the fourth, the Raiders now led the Dragons, 3-2.

 

Tate Hales came on in relief of Trey Payne in the top of the fourth and Hales had a phenomenal outing. Hales, kept the Raiders bats quiet in the top of the fourth to send it to the bottom of the frame. Hales, then reached on a 1-out single. Tyler Payne, then reached on a 2-out single. The Raiders, were able to get the runner at the plate to end the inning and send it to the fifth with Southeast Whitfield still leading, 3-2.

 

In the top of the fifth, Hales again held the Raiders scoreless as his impressive outing continued. In the bottom of the fifth, Antinozzi reached on a 1-out single. Will, then reached after drawing a walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd with still 1-out. After the runners moved up to 2nd and 3rd, Trey Payne drove in Antinozzi with a grounder to the second baseman. After a 2-out walk drawn by Cade Sutton, the Dragons had runners at 1st and 3rd. The Raiders, were able to get out of the inning having just given up the 1 run. Going to the sixth, Pickens and Southeast Whitfield were tied at 3.

 

In the top of the sixth, Hales needed just 5 pitches to sit the Raiders down in order, and send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the frame, Hales, reached with his second hit of the game. Colby Brooks, running for Hales, stole 2nd to get in scoring position. Sam Hammontree, who came on in the top of the inning as a replacement for Ledbetter, drove in Brooks with an RBI single to give the Dragons a 4-3 lead going to the seventh.

 

JP Nunn came on in relief of Hales to try and close it out. The Raiders, made it interesting as they drew three straight walks to load the bases. Nunn, then forced a grounder to the shortstop Giddens who threw home for the force out. Nunn, then got back to back strikeouts to close it out and give the Dragons the 4-3 win.

 

Game 3:

After winning game 2 and taking the series, the Dragons looked to get the three game sweep over the Southeast Whitfield Raiders. In the top of the 1st, Dragons starter James Tilley needed 11 pitches to get the Raiders in order. In the bottom of the first, Pickens struck early as Harlan Will led off with a walk, his courtesy runner Tee Knight, stole 2nd, reached 3rd on a wild pitch, then ended up scoring on that same wild pitch. Anthony Antinozzi, who drew to walk initially, reached 2nd during the madness. Tyler Payne, then drove in Antinozzi with a 1-out double to make it 2-0 Dragons. Cade Sutton, followed that RBI double with an RBI double of his own to score Payne to make it 3-0 Pickens going to the second.

 

In the top of the second, Tilley continued his stellar outing as he needed 10 pitches to get out of the top half of the second. In the bottom of the second, the Dragons bats came alive. Pickens, batted around and plated 7 runs to stretch their lead over the Raiders to 10-0 going to the third.

 

In the top of the third, Tilley struck out the side to bring his total to 4 on the night. Heading to the bottom of the frame, the Dragons still led Southeast Whitfield, 10-0. In the bottom of the third, Antinozzi started it off with a lead off walk. Trey Payne drove in Antinozzi with an RBI single to make it 11-0. Sutton, drove in Payne after a grounder to the third baseman to make it 12-0. Tilley, reached on a walk, and Sam Hammontree reached on an error. A single from Colby Brooks drove in Tilley and Hammontree to make it 14-0. Evan Giddens, then reached on a walk. Will, then blooped one into shallow left field to score Brooks to make it 15-0. With the run rule in place, the Dragons took game 3, 15-0, and earned the sweep of Southeast Whitfield.

 

7-AAAA Baseball Standings:

Cedartown: 16-7 (10-2)

Heritage: 15-9 (8-4)

Pickens: 14-9 (9-6)

Central-Carroll: 15-8 (7-5)

Northwest Whitfield: 13-10 (7-5)

Ridgeland: 7-12 (3-9)

Southeast Whitfield: 3-23 (1-14)

 

The Dragons, will be out of region play next week as they will play four games with three different teams. First up, a home and home series with the Sonoraville Phoenix. The first game of the series will be at Sonoraville on Monday, April 11th. First pitch is set for 5:55 pm.

Dragons defeat Generals to begin region series

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Jasper, Ga — Coming off of a series with Northwest Whitfield last week which saw the Dragons take two of three from the Bruins, Pickens began a series with the Heritage Generals on Tuesday, March 22nd. Heritage, swept the Southeast Whitfield Raiders two weeks ago, but did not participate in region play last week. The Generals, came into the game with a 9-5 overall record and 3-0 in 7-AAAA play. The Dragons, came into the game with an identical 9-5 overall record and a 4-2 record in 7-AAAA play. Off the strength of big time pitching performances by Connor Shouse and JP Nunn, the Dragons came away with a 5-1 win over the Generals in game 1 of the series.

 

Sophomore Ga Tech commit Connor Shouse, got the start for the Dragons in game 1 of the series. After giving up a lead off walk, Shouse was able to regroup as he would collect his first two strikeouts of the game and send us to the bottom of the first, still 0-0. In the bottom of the first, Shouse led off with a single to the right side. Shouse then took 2nd after a passed ball. He would be left at 2nd as the Generals were able to force a pop up to 3rd, a strikeout, and a ground out to send us to the top of the second, still scoreless.

 

In the top of the second, Heritage was again able to draw a lead off walk. After the walk, Shouse collected himself and struck out the side to send it to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the second, the Dragons were able to get on the board with a couple of runs. Tyler Payne worked the count full then drew a 1-out walk, Trey Payne then hit a single, James Tilley followed that up with a single of his own to load the bases. Colby Brooks, reached on a fielder’s choice as courtesy runner Cason Cannon and Trey Payne came around to score to make it 2-0. Shouse then drew a four pitch walk, and Trace Ledbetter followed with a single to again load the bases. Brooks came in to score after Anthony Antinozzi reached on an error to make it 3-0. The Generals, were able to force a fly out to center as we’d head to the top of the third with Pickens now leading Heritage, 3-0.

 

In the top of the third, Heritage, was able to force yet another lead off walk. Their third in three innings. The Dragons got a big double play after the walk as Ledbetter gathered the ground ball, stepped on first, then fired it to Tilley at second to complete the double play. Shouse then ended the top half of the third with his 6th strikeout of the game. In the bottom of the third, Cade Sutton led off by reaching on an error. After a beautiful bunt by Tyler Payne, Sutton found himself at 2nd. Trey Payne then reached on a 4 pitch walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd with just 1 out. Tilley, reached first on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Sutton to come in and score to make it 4-0 Dragons. Brooks, then nearly beat out a grounder to the third baseman as they’d go to the top of the fourth, with Pickens leading the Generals, 4-0.

 

In the top of the fourth, Shouse picked up his 7th strikeout of the game to begin the top half of the frame. While the pitches weren’t missing by much, Heritage was able to draw a walk for the 4th time to put a runner at 1st. After the walk, Shouse then collected his 8th strikeout for the second out of the inning. After the Generals picked up their first hit of the ball game, Shouse ended the top half of the fourth with his 9th strikeout to send us to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Heritage got it’s first clean inning of the game as they were able to force two fly outs and a ground out to send it to the fifth with the Dragons ahead, 4-0.

 

In the top of the fifth, Shouse forced two ground outs and picked up his 10th strikeout in a clean top half of the frame to send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the fifth, Sutton reached on a 1-out single. Tyler Payne reached on a 4-pitch walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1-out. The runners then moved up to 2nd and 3rd as Trey Payne grounded out to first. Tilley, drove in the courtesy runner Cannon to make it 5-0 Pickens. Tilley, advanced to 2nd on the throw home and the Dragons had runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2-outs. Heritage, got out of the inning after a fly out to right field and they’d go to the top of the sixth with Pickens now leading the Generals, 5-0.

 

In the top of the sixth, JP Nunn came on in relief of Shouse. Heritage picked up a run on 3 hits in the top of the inning to cut the Dragons lead to 5-1. In the bottom of the frame, Ledbetter reached on a 1-out single. Antinozzi reached on a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1-out. The Generals, forced to pop outs to send it to the seventh with the Dragons ahead, 5-1.

 

In the top of the seventh, Nunn worked around a lead off walk as he picked up his 2nd and 3rd strikeout and left that runner stranded to end the ball game and seal the win for the Dragons in game 1 of the series, 5-1.

 

Stats For The Dragons:

Connor Shouse: 1-3 with a single and a walk (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 K, 4 BB, 81 pitches)

Trace Ledbetter: 2-4 with 2 singles

Anthony Antinozzi: 1 walk

Cade Sutton: 1-4 with a single and 1 run scored

Tyler Payne: 2 walks, and 1 sacrifice bunt

Trey Payne: 1-2 with a single, a walk, and 1 run scored

James Tilley: 2-3 with 2 singles and 1 RBI

Colby Brooks: 2 RBI and 1 run scored

Cason Cannon: 2 runs scored

 

7-AAAA Baseball Standings:

Heritage: 9-6 (3-1)

Pickens: 10-5 (5-2)

Cedartown: 9-6 (5-2)

Northwest Whitfield: 8-7 (2-2)

Central-Carroll: 10-7 (3-4)

Ridgeland: 6-7 (2-4)

Southeast Whitfield: 3-14 (1-6)

 

The Dragons and Generals, will now turn their attention to the doubleheader that is set for Friday, March 25th at Heritage. The first game of the doubleheader has a first pitch time of 4:30 pm. The second game will follow shortly after the first game concludes.

 

Dragons sweep doubleheader to take region series from Lions

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Jasper, Ga — After an exciting finish to the first game of the doubleheader, the two teams took a break to recharge and get ready for the second game. The second game, was just as exciting or even more exciting then the first game. The Dragons, again had to make a comeback as they swept the doubleheader and took the best of 3 series from the Lions with a 7-5 win in the nightcap.

 

The Dragons, were the visitors in the second game of the doubleheader so they had the first crack with the bats. Connor Shouse led off the game by drawing a walk. Trace Ledbetter advanced Shouse to third with a double. Shouse and Ledbetter would be brought in by consecutive productive outs by Trey Payne and Harlan Will. Going to the bottom of the first, Pickens led Central-Carroll, 2-0. In the bottom of the first, Dragons starter James Tilley needed just 6 pitches to get through the top of the Lions order as we headed to the second, with the Dragons leading, 2-0.

 

In the top of the second, Pickens would go down in order as the score remained 2-0. In the bottom of the frame, Tilley picked up his 1st and 2nd strikeout of the game, but the Lions were able to plate 4 runs on 4 hits to take the lead going to the third, 4-2.

 

In the top of the third, Shouse reached on an error with 1-out. He would eventually come around to score as the Dragons cut the Central-Carroll lead down to 4-3. In the bottom of the frame, Tilley had another quick half inning as he sat down the Lions on 9 pitches to send us to the fourth with Central-Carroll ahead, 4-3.

 

In the top of the fourth, Cade Sutton drew a 1-out walk and Colby Brooks legged out a 2-out single to put runners at first and second. The Lions were able to get out of that scoring threat, and send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Tilley, picked up his 3rd strikeout, but Central-Carroll added a run to their total to extend their lead to 5-3 going to the fifth.

 

In the top of the fifth, both Ledbetter and Trey Payne reached on a pair of infield errors. Will then moved them over with a fantastic sacrifice bunt. Tyler Payne then also reached on an error. Ledbetter and Trey Payne would come around to score to tie things up at 5 going to the bottom of the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, Tate Hales came on in relief of Tilley and he was impressive in his outing. Hales, kept the game tied at 5 and sent us to the sixth inning.

 

In the top of the sixth, the Dragons loaded the bases after Shouse reached on a fielder’s choice, Trey Payne drew a walk, and Will was hit with a pitch. The Lions, were able to get out of that potential sticky situation and keep the game tied at 5 going to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the sixth, JP Nunn, yes, the same JP Nunn who picked up the save in game 1 of the doubleheader, came on in relief of Hales in the bottom of the sixth. Nunn, was able to work around some at bats by the Lions and keep the game deadlocked at 5 going to the top of the seventh.

 

In the top of the seventh, Antinozzi and Sutton reached on back to back singles. Tilley, then reached after drawing a walk to load the bases. Shouse, put up a good battle after being down 0-2 to drive in Antinozzi with a sacrifice fly and give the Dragons a 6-5 lead. Ledbetter, then drew a walk to load the bases once again. Trey Payne followed that up by drawing a walk of his own to bring in Sutton to make it 7-5 Pickens going to the bottom of the inning.

 

In the bottom of the seventh, Nunn headed back to the mound to try to preserve the win and the series for the Dragons. The Lions, made things interesting as they loaded the bases with 2-outs. Nunn, was able to work around that and get a strikeout to seal the win for the Dragons, 7-5.

 

Stats for the Dragons:

Connor Shouse: 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 2 runs scored

Trace Ledbetter: 2-4 with a double, a single, 1 walk, and 2 runs scored

Trey Payne: 2 walks, 2 RBI, and 1 run scored

Harlan Will: 1 single, 1 hit by pitch, and 1 RBI

Anthony Antinozzi: 1-4 with 1 single and 1 run scored

Cade Sutton: 1-2 with 1 single, 2 walks, and 1 run scored

James Tilley: 1 walk

Colby Brooks: 2-4 with 2 singles

 

7-AAAA Baseball Standings:

Pickens: 7-3 (2-0)

Heritage: 6-3 (1-0)

Northwest Whitfield: 6-4 (0-0)

Ridgeland: 4-3 (0-0)

Cedartown: 4-4 (0-0)

Southeast Whitfield: 2-9 (0-1)

Central-Carroll: 7-5 (0-2)

 

The Dragons, will be back in action on Thursday, March 10th as they again host the Central-Carroll Lions for the third and final game of the series. With the series win already in their pocket, the Dragons will look to complete the sweep. First pitch set for 4 pm at Dunn Field at Pickens High School.

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