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.
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.
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.
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.
Jasper, Ga — It was time to start region play for the Pickens Dragons baseball team as they began a three game series with the Central-Carroll Lions on Wednesday, March 9th. Due to the rain that came in on Tuesday, the original schedule was adjusted a bit. The Tuesday game, was moved to Thursday, and the doubleheader that was originally scheduled to be played on Thursday at Central-Carroll, would now be played at Pickens. Coming into the game, the Dragons were 5-3 after a tough loss to Lumpkin County last week. The Lions, came in at 7-3, but were also coming off of a tough loss to Walnut Grove. Central-Carroll also came in ranked at #8 in the 4A poll. In a tightly played first game, the Dragons came away with a 3-2 win.
Connor Shouse took the mound for the first game of the doubleheader and he pitched very well for the Dragons. In the top of the first, the Lions collected a couple of hits, and a a run to take an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Dragons went down in order and we’d head to the second, with Central-Carroll leading 1-0.
In the top of the second, Shouse picked up his 3rd and 4th strikeout of the game. The Lions were able to bring in another run to extend their lead to 2-0. In the bottom of the frame, the Dragons again went down in order. Going to the third, Central-Carroll held a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Shouse picked up his 5th strikeout of the game and kept the Lions at bay to send it to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom half of the third, Pickens had their first base runners of the game as James Tilley drew a walk and Cade Sutton reached on a fielder’s choice. Central-Carroll worked around it and we’d head to the fourth with the Lions still ahead, 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Shouse picked up his 6th and 7th strikeout of the game as he continued to shut down the Lions offense and keep the game within striking distance. In the bottom of the fourth, the Dragons worked some 2-out magic. Harlan Will reached on an error. Then, Tyler Payne was hit by a pitch. On a 2-2 count, Anthony Antinozzi laced one into the left center field gap. That double brought home courtesy runners Ethan Gemberling and Cason Cannon to tie the game up at 2. Tilley, was able to reach first after a dropped third strike. Antinozzi would advance to third and Tilley would advance to second after a wild pitch. The Lions were able to get out of the fourth with the game still tied at 2.
After giving up a walk to begin the top of the fifth, Shouse forced two ground outs and a fly out to send us to the bottom half of the frame. In the bottom of the fifth, Shouse reached third after a 1-out triple. Trace Ledbetter was then hit by a pitch. Trey Payne knocked one over to the right side of the diamond and brought in Shouse to give Pickens a 3-2 lead going to the sixth.
JP Nunn came on in relief of Shouse in the top of the sixth. Nunn, was able to keep the Lions off the scoreboard and sent us to the bottom of the inning.In the bottom of the sixth, The Dragons flew out three straight at bats to send us to the seventh with Pickens leading, 3-2.
Nunn, came back out for the top of the seventh to try and close the first game out. And close it out he did as the Dragons come back to take game 1 of the doubleheader and the series, 3-2.
Stats for the Dragons:
Connor Shouse: 1-3 with a triple and 1 run scored
Trace Ledbetter: 1 hit by pitch
Trey Payne: 1 RBI
Tyler Payne: 1 hit by pitch
Anthony Antinozzi: 1-3 with 1 double, and 1 RBI
Ethan Gemberling: 1 run scored
Cason Cannon: 1 run scored
Jasper, Georgia — Several teams from multiple classifications made their way to the Dragons Den on Saturday December, 18th as PHS was the site for the annual Burnt Mountain Classic. The action started bright and early at 9 in the morning and went on into mid afternoon. Pickens, had a good showing as several Dragons wrestlers placed during the tournament.
1st: Dylan Gonzalez
3rd: Jack Flatt
4th: Chris Knight
4th: Cason Cannon