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 — 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.
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.
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.
Jasper, Ga — After a tough weekend down in Brunswick which saw the Dragons fall to North Springs 7-1 and Long County 7-4 for their first two losses of the season, they came back to Jasper on Tuesday, March 1st looking to get back on track. The Lumpkin County Indians, came into the game with a 4-2 record with early wins over Riverwood and Lamar County. As well as a sweep of Johnson-Gainesville. After a big fourth inning, the Dragons come away with a 7-5 win over the Indians.
James Tilley started on the mound for the Dragons and he pitched fairly well during his time on the mound. In the top of the first, Tilley collected his first two strikeouts as the Indians were held scoreless to start the game. In the bottom of the first, Connor Shouse lead things off with a double for Pickens. after a fly out and a strikeout, Harlan Will came through and brought Shouse home with an RBI double to make it 1-0 Dragons going to the second.
In the top of the second, Lumpkin was able to tie things up at 1 a piece after drawing a couple of walks, and taking advantage of some miscues by Pickens. In the bottom of the frame, the Dragons were looking to work some two out magic as Colby Brooks drew a walk to keep the half inning alive. Evan Giddens hit a pop fly into no man’s land in the outfield, but was called out at 2nd base trying to stretch it into a double. Going to the third, the game remained tied at 1.
In the top of the third, the Indians again took advantage of some mistakes by the Pickens defense to plate a run and take a 2-1 lead heading to the bottom of the inning. After a lead off single by Shouse, he would be left stranded at third base as we’d head to the top of the fourth with Lumpkin leading, 2-1.
JP Nunn came on in relief of Tilley in the top of the fourth and he was able to keep the Indians offense at bay and keep it at 2-1. Tilley, now the 2nd baseman, led off the bottom of the fourth by getting hit with a pitch. Trey Payne then came up and advanced the runner to 2nd with a single. Nunn then came up, and laid down a picture perfect bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd with only one out. Brooks, drew his 2nd walk of the game to load the bases up with Dragons. Giddens, drew a walk as well to bring in Tilley. Shouse, drew the third straight walk to bring in Payne to make it 3-2 Pickens. Here’s where it gets weird. Trace Ledbetter hits one to left field, Brooks scores, Giddens scores, a throw over at 2nd to try to get Ledbetter, Shouse comes home from third after the throw to 2nd. During that, Ledbetter takes 3rd base, or so we think. Ledbetter would be called out at 3rd due to catcher interference. All total, three runs scored on that play to make it 6-2 Pickens going to the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, the Indians didn’t let what happened in the bottom of the fourth deter them as they came back and scored a run to cut the Dragons lead down to 6-3. In the bottom of the frame, after Trey Payne drew a 2-out walk, he was able to come around and score to make it 7-3 Dragons going to the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Nunn finished off his three innings of work by holding the Indians scoreless and keeping the score at 7-3 in favor of the Dragons going to the bottom of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, the Dragons would go down quietly as Lumpkin forced two pop fly outs and got a strikeout to send us to the seventh, with Pickens up 7-3.
Trace Ledbetter took over for Nunn in the top of the 7th looking to close this one out. The Indians, were not going down without a fight as they scored two runs to make it 7-5. With 2 outs, Ledbetter was able to get the final one to preserve the 7-5 lead and the win for the Dragons.
Stats for the Dragons:
Connor Shouse: 2-3 with a double, a single, 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 2 runs scored
Harlan Will: 1-3 with 1 double, and 1 RBI
James Tilley: 1 hit by pitch, and 1 run scored
Trey Payne: 1-2 with 1 single, 1 walk, and 2 runs scored
Colby Brooks: 2 walks, and 1 run scored
Evan Giddens: 1-1 with 1 single, 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
The Dragons, will be back on the field on Wednesday, March 2nd as they head up 515 to Ellijay to take on the Gilmer Bobcats in the finale of their home and home series. First pitch is set for 5:30 pm.
Jasper, Ga — The 515 rivalry made its way to the baseball diamond on Thursday, February 24th as the Pickens Dragons welcomed the Gilmer Bobcats to Dunn Field for non-region action. This, was the first game between the two teams as they will play in Ellijay next week, This time next year, these two teams will be in the same region again. The Dragons, came into this game at 2-0 after a home and home sweep against Dawson. The Bobcats, came in with a 3-0 record on the early season. The Dragons, got runs from the 2nd inning to the 6th inning as they took the first game against the Bobcats, 10-5.
J.P. Nunn took the mound to start for the Dragons and he got off to a quick start in the top of the first getting two quick outs. The Bobcats, were able to find some two out magic as Ethan McCollum and Grant Cochran reached base. The starting pitcher for Gilmer, Seth Darling, brought both McCollum and Cochran home on a double to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the first, the Dragons tried some two out magic of their own as Anthony Antinozzi got on with a two out double. The Bobcats were able to get out of the first inning with no damage done and still holding a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Nunn settled down and got the Bobcats in order in a quick 1-2-3 top half of the frame. In the bottom of the second, The Dragons were able to tie things up at 2 a piece after James Tilley was hit by a pitch, and Colby Brooks drew a walk. Both scored after several throwing errors were made by the Bobcats. Going to the top of the third, we were tied at 2.
In the top of the third, Nunn again got the first two outs of the inning rather quickly. McCollum, got on again, this time via a two out single. Cochran then drew a walk as Gilmer was looking to retake the lead. Nunn, was able to rally and get a strikeout to send us to the bottom of the frame still tied at 2. In the bottom of the third, things got going for the Dragons after Trace Ledbetter reached base with one out. Antinozzi, hit one into the gap and brought Ledbetter home with a triple. Antinozzi then scored on an errant throw to make it 4-2 Pickens. After a double by Harlan Will, Trey Payne was able to bring him home with an RBI single. Tilley, then reached first after drawing a walk. Brooks, looked to keep the bottom of the third going, but would fly out to center to send us to the top of the fourth with the Dragons ahead, 5-2.
In the top of the fourth, the Bobcats clawed their way back into the game as Noah Gutillo drew a 1-out walk, Carter Jones followed that up with a 1-out single. Trey Payne, who came on in relief of Nunn, got a strikeout for the 2nd out of the frame. Branson Teague, got Gilmer within a run after a 2 RBI double to make it 5-4. Austin Zabala followed that up with a walk to put runners on 1st and 3rd as Teague was running on the 3-2 count. With McCollum up, Tyler Payne was able to throw out Zabala who couldn’t get back to first in time. Going to the bottom of the fourth, Pickens led Gilmer, 5-4. In the bottom of the fourth, Connor Shouse was able to draw a 1-out walk. After Ledbetter popped up to the second baseman, Antinozzi continued his big night with his third extra base hit of the game as he brought in Shouse with an RBI double to make it 6-4. Will followed that up with an RBI single to bring in Antinozzi to make it 7-4 Dragons going to the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, McCollum led off with a single. After Cochran popped out to third baseman Evan Giddens, Darling reached on a fielders choice. Tate Hales, who came on in relief of Trey Payne, got Billy Goswick to ground out to Giddens to end the top half of the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, the Dragons looked to add to their three run lead. Trey Payne got things going with a lead off single. Tilley followed that by drawing another walk. Brooks, brought in Trey Payne with an RBI single to make it 8-4. After Giddens drew a walk to load the bases, Shouse was hit by a pitch to bring in Tilley to make it 9-4 Pickens going to the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Hales continued a good outing as he got the Bobcats in order with three fly outs to send us to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom half of the sixth, Tyler and Trey Payne drew back to back 1-out walks. Tilley, was then able to drive in a run with an RBI double to make it 10-4 Dragons. Gilmer was able to get out of a jam as Pickens left the bases loaded as we’d head to the top of the seventh with the Dragons leading the Bobcats, 10-4.
Shouse took the mound for the Dragons in the top of the seventh to try to shut this one down. Teague, was hit by a pitch, then Zabala followed it up with a single. Cochran, brought home Teague on a 1-out single to make it 10-5 Pickens. After a lengthy discussion by the umpires with themselves and both head coaches for Pickens and Gilmer, it was determined that Cochran would be called out. Reason being, the Dragons were able to pull off a hidden ball trick. Shouse, was able to collect himself after a bit of a delay, and strikeout Darling for the final out. The final from Jasper, Pickens 10 Gilmer 5.
Stats For Gilmer:
Branson Teague: 1-3 with a double, 1 hit by pitch, 2 RBI and 1 run scored
Austin Zabala: 1-3 with a walk and a single
Ethan McCollum: 2-3 with 2 singles, 1 walk, and 1 run scored
Greg Cochran: 1 single, 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
Seth Darling: 1-4 with 1 double and 2 RBI
Noah Gutillo: 1 walk and 1 run scored
Carter Jones: 1-3 with 1 single and 1 run scored
Stats For Pickens:
Connor Shouse: 1 walk, 1 hit by pitch, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
Trace Ledbetter: 1-4 with a single and 1 run scored
Anthony Antinozzi: 3-4 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored
Harlan Will: 2-4 with 1 double, 1 single, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
Tyler Payne: 1 walk
Trey Payne: 2-3 with 2 singles, 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
James Tilley: 1-1 with 1 double, 2 walks, 1 hit by pitch, 1 RBI, and 2 runs scored
Colby Brooks: 1-3 with 1 single, 1 walk, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored
Evan Giddens: 2 walks
The Dragons, now move to 3-0 on the season. They will now head down to Baseball at the Beach for a Saturday double header as they take on both North Springs and Long County. Baseball at the Beach is played at Edo Miller Park in Brunswick Georgia. The first game of the day for the Dragons will be against North Springs at 10 am. After playing that one and getting some lunch, the Dragons will then play Long County at 4 pm.
Pickens County, Ga — As we said in the Murray County/Pickens recap article, Saturday, February 26th was a busy day as far as baseball went. After the game between the Indians and Dragons finished, Murray County took on the Lumpkin County Indians. After a good back and forth game which saw Murray try to come back late, Lumpkin came away with a 10-6 win. The third game of the day saw Lumpkin take on the Wheeler Wildcats. Wheeler, was the biggest school in terms of classification as they are a 6A school. Lumpkin hung with Wheeler for the better part of the game as the Wildcats came away with an 11-4 victory in game 3. Game 4 saw the host team, the Pickens Dragons take on Wheeler in the night cap. After a tough time in the middle innings for the Dragons, Wheeler picked up the win, 16-2.
Freshman Connor Shouse made the start for the Dragons and pitched very well against the 6A school. The Wildcats, picked up 2 hits, but were held to just 1 run in the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, Pickens got a 2-out double from Hunter White, and Seth Densmore was able to reach 1st base on an error. The two runners were left stranded however and we headed to the second with the Wildcats lead the Dragons, 1-0.
In the top of the second, Shouse racked up his first three strikeouts of the game, but Wheeler was able to push across another run as they increased their lead to 2-0 going to the bottom of the second. In the bottom half of the inning, Jarod Whitmore led off with a single, Trace Ledbetter followed with a single of his own, and Evan Giddens brought in Whitmore after a sacrifice bunt to make it 2-1 Wildcats as we would head to the third.
Shouse found his groove in the top of the third as he needed only 11 pitches to get out of the frame and picking up his 4th strikeout in the process. The Dragons went quietly in the bottom of the third. As we went to the fourth inning, Wheeler still held a slim 2-1 lead.
After the first batter for the Wildcats reached on an error to begin the fourth inning, Shouse settled down and picked up his 5th and 6th strikeout of the game to send us to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Ledbetter was left stranded on 1st after a 2-out single. Going to the top of the fifth, Wheeler still held a 2-1 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, Shouse picked up his 7th strikeout for the first out of the inning. The Wildcats, scored 5 runs in the top half of the inning to give them a 7-1 lead going to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the fifth, Shouse, now over a shortstop, got hit by a pitch with 1 out, White walked, Densmore got hit by a pitch, and Drake Sutton brought in Shouse after drawing a walk to make it 7-2 Wheeler going to the sixth.
The top of the sixth inning, was not kind to the Dragons. The Wildcats would score 9 runs in the top of half of the frame to make it 16-2 as we would head to the bottom of the inning. The Dragons, went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and the Wheeler Wildcats took this one, 16-2.
The Pickens Dragons will look to regroup as they will host the Lumpkin County Indians on Tuesday in non-region action. First pitch is set for 5:30 pm at Dunn Field.