Area Sports...

April 18, 2001

Diamond Dragons down Buford, lead Region 8-A race
How can a team be ranked second in the state, and be only the third-best team in their region?
Ask the Buford Wolves.
Coach Chuck Cook and his Jefferson Dragons rolled into Buford Monday with the lead in the Region 8-A baseball standings, and came home with that lead extended, thanks to a 5-1 win.
"We beat their number-one pitcher," Cook said after the win. "It wasn't a fluke by any means."
The red-hot Corey Hill threw five innings on the hill for Jefferson, and gave up only two hits and an earned run while striking out four. Behind Hill, the Dragons played error-free ball.
"We just played good defense," Cook said of his infielders' play. "When they hit the ball hard, we were right there. Kyle Potts played a great shortstop. He had probably eight putouts, and looked real good."
Jefferson took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, off an RBI single by Potts and a sacrifice fly from Hill. Buford used one hit to push their lone run across in the second.
Ryan Gurley scored Jefferson's third run when Potts singled him across, and Hill followed with a two-run blast to finish the scoring.
Buford loaded the bases in the fourth, but Potts grabbed a slow roller and fired to first to end the inning on a close play.
Christopher Wheaton picked up the last six outs against seven Buford batters.
The win improves Jefferson to 6-0 in the region, and leaves the team with the chance to go up by two full games over their nearest competitor with a win Wednesday against Providence.
"Beating Wesleyan like we did last Thursday really boosted our confidence," Cook said, "but we've got to play some good ball Wednesday."
Providence handed Buford its first loss last week in an 8-2 upset. The Wolves now find themselves in third place in the region, but have a number of likely wins upcoming before meeting Providence and Jefferson again in the
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season's final week.
Hill's and Wheaton's performances were just the latest in a string of strong outings on the mound.
The Dragons pounded Wesleyan for 11 runs last Thursday, but needed only two, as Potts held the Wolves to one run in six innings. Jefferson had only nine hits in the game, but Wesleyan pitchers also walked nine Dragons.
"We didn't hit the ball well against Wesleyan," Cook recalled, "but we did what we had to do as far as getting people across the plate."
The Dragons' nine hits were spread across nine batters, with Gurley, Potts, Joseph Laird and Josh Nabors each driving in two runs.
"That's big," Cook said of his team's well-rounded hitting. "Nobody's really standing out, but the whole team's got a good average."
Jefferson committed only a single error in the game, against the leadoff hitter.
Rabun Gap provided the Dragons another big region win last Wednesday, 17-0. Hill pitched only one inning, and Wheaton struck out four of six hitters faced to end the game.
Hill was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs, Shane Wilburn 3-4 with one RBI, and Gurley 2-3 with an RBI. It was Potts, however, who carried the biggest stick. The junior drove in five runs in one inning, off a double and a grand-slam home run that sailed in excess of 400 feet to dead center field.
"If the win the next two games, I'll feel pretty good," Cook said prior to Monday's win over Buford. "The pitchers have been performing well over the past two weeks, but we're going to see two really good pitchers, including a real good one Wednesday that shut Buford down last week. This is a real big test for us. I sure would love to win these two games."
Looking beyond Wednesday, Jefferson will travel to Lakeview Friday at 4:30 p.m., host Commerce Monday at 5 p.m. and ride to Tallulah Falls next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.


Leopards take eighth in a row
Banks shuts out Towns for 10th region win. After eight region wins in a row, the Banks County Leopards sit at second place in Region 8-AA. The Leopards (14-3, 10-2) will have a shot at inching closer to first when they host top-ranked GAC Friday. Banks County was edged out 2-1 the last time they faced the Spartans.
But the Leopards haven't lost a region game, or any game, since the loss in late March.
Before GAC, though, Banks must get past Dawson County, the only other region team to defeat the Leopards. The Tigers came from behind to beat Dawson the last time the two teams faced off. Banks was scheduled to face the Tigers Wednesday.
"We really need to win," head coach Mike Williams said. "We don't need to be swept by anyone in the region."
Defeating Dawson could possibly push the Tigers out of playoff contention-a fitting revenge considering Dawson County beat Banks in a one-game playoff to end the Leopards' season last year.
"We have got to come out and hit the ball," Williams said. "I know the pitching will be there and defensively we haven't been making mistakes."
Banks County hopes to return its starting catcher to the lineup against Dawson. Eli Cooper has missed his last two games to an ankle injury.
Cooper was batting .392 with 15 RBIs prior to his injury.
"He's been hitting the ball real well," Williams said. "And he's been doing a good job behind the plate."
VS. TOWNS COUNTY
On Monday afternoon, Leopard junior Corey Sims was able to pitch a shutout in six and one-third innings to take a 4-0 win over Towns County. Joseph Whitlock came in for the save.
"Corey pitched another good one," Williams said. "We needed that win."
Sims pitched out of several jams against the Indians. Towns left nine runners stranded in the game.
Banks took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Whitlock drove in Joe Krause on a grounder to shortstop. Whitlock went around to score after tagging on a pop fly to center field.
The Leopards scored another run in the bottom of the third.
Krause led off and reached on an error before stealing second. He moved to third on Whitlock's line into the outfield.
Hank Jones came in in the clean- up spot and popped the ball into shallow left field. Three Towns County defenders watched the ball fall to the ground, allowing Krause to move in for the score, putting Banks up 3-0.
The Leopards took another run in the fifth inning off Jones' solo shot to center field to lead off the inning.
Towns County tried to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh inning. After fanning the first batter, Sims walked three straight, prompting Williams to bring in Whitlock.
Whitlock fanned the next batter on three straight pitches and forced the Indians' last hitter to pop out to short to end the game.
VS. APALACHEE
The Leopards knotched a 13-5 win over Apalachee Friday night.
Jones and Clint Angel both had homers to help Banks' cause.
VS. LUMPKIN COUNTY
Banks County was able to beat the only region team they hadn't faced, taking Lumpkin 7-6 last Wednesday.
"It was a big win to beat them," Williams said. "They've got a good team and they hit the ball well."
After going up 1-0 early, Banks quickly fell behind 3-1 and were later behind 6-3 going into the fifth. But the Leopards tied up the score at 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the sixth, Banks was able to jump ahead 7-6. Whitlock came in to pitch in the top of the seventh, taking the save.
"We battled and fought back," Williams said. "We drew some walks and got some hits when we needed to. It was a nail-bitter but we were able to pull it out."





Baseball Tigers Fourth In 8A
The Commerce Tiger baseball team kept its record above the .500 mark against tough competition. The Tigers are 4-3 in the Region and are hanging on to the last playoff spot with one game left before the half way mark in their region schedule.
Wednesday the Tigers will play at Wesleyan. Monday Commerce will travel down the road to face region leader Jefferson and its feared pitching staff that struck out 17 Tigers the last time out.
Buford welcomed Commerce to its plush park and opened the game with three runs after holding Commerce scoreless in the first.
The Tigers put two runs on the board in the second. A walk to Steven Bihss, followed by a Dane Cotrell single and a Buford error allowed the runs to cross.
Buford scored four times in the second on four hits a walk and a hit batter.
Cotrell walked the first two batters in the Buford half of the third. Bihss came on in relief, walked one and allowed a hit but got out of the inning without a Buford runner crossing the plate.
The Wolves held Commerce scoreless in the third but trailing by five runs the Tigers attempted to put together a rally. The Big Cats were only able to get one run across the plate as Wes Prickett scored on a hit by Scott White.
Bihss began the fourth giving up a hit and a walk. Both Buford runners would score.
Craig Henderson came in and shut the door on Buford's bats, but it was too late. The score was 9-3 after four. The Tigers were able to get one run across in the seventh when a double by Chad Jordan scored Charlie Epps who had reached on a single.
The final score was 9-4. Cotrell took the loss for the Tigers.
Commerce VS Lakeview
Commerce's next game was a big victory at Lakeview, Monday, April 16.
Henderson started slowly . He gave up five hits in the first inning, walked one and the Commerce second baseman committed an error allowing the Lions to score four runs in the first. For more information see this weeks Commerce News.





Diamond Panthers look for payback second time through
The Jackson County baseball team began its second trip through the Region 8-AAA schedule Monday, with a 7-6 loss to Monroe Area. During the second time around, the Panthers hope to do just what Monroe did Monday ­ pay back the teams that have beaten them.
The Panthers began the region slate with strong wins over Monroe and Elbert County, but are just 2-6 in region play since.
Just past halfway, the region cream seems to have begun rising. Loganville, expected before the season began to be the team to beat, sits at the top, at 8-2, but both Stephens County and Hart County are close behind at 7-3. The Indians bested Hart County late last month.
The surprise team of the season looks to be Madison County. The Raiders currently hold the crucial fourth slot at 6-4. The top four teams in the region will advance to the state tournament. Eastside is fifth, at 5-5.
Sixth place is hotly contested, with Elbert County, Monroe Area and Winder-Barrow joining Jackson County at 4-6. The Panthers have defeated all three 4-6 opponents once.
Franklin County, beneficiary of a Panther loss last week, sits at the bottom of the heap, at 1-9, realistically out of the playoffs, though not mathematically yet.
A home win against Madison County Monday is crucial to the Panthers' playoff hopes, but the team can't afford to overlook Elbert County today. A win over Loganville Friday could provide a much-needed boost going into the season's final two weeks.
Jackson County started well against Franklin County last week, but the Lions pounced back with six runs in the fourth inning on their way to an 8-7 win.
Michael Savadge looked to have the game off on the right note in the first inning, but his home run ball was caught against and above the center-field fence. Pitcher Trey McConnell was strong on the mound, holding Franklin County to only two hits through the first three innings.
Jason Pittman put the Panthers up 2-0 in the fourth with a dinger that also drove in Tim Whisnant, but Franklin's bats woke up with a vengeance in the fourth. The Lions pounded out five hits, including a home run, to claim the lead. Whisnant came on to record the third out.
Tyler Murphy jacked a long ball in the fifth with Cody Fortson on base to close the gap to 6-4, but Franklin took advantage of a walk, an error and a single to score again in the bottom half.
Emotions ran high in the sixth after two straight Franklin County batters were hit by pitches, but the adrenaline was just a precursor to the game's end.
The Panthers came up with three runs in the seventh, thanks to an error, two walks, a single and a sacrifice.
Savadge reached on an error with one out, and Murphy and Hill both walked to load the bases. After pinch-runner Ray Brown was called on for Hill, Lee Reece sacrificed Savadge in. Blake Wilson's clutch single drove in Murphy to make it a one-run game with two out.
Whisnant slapped a slow roller on the infield, but the Lion first-baseman came off the bag in what would have been the game's final play. Brown scored easily to tie at 7-7, but a strikeout ended any further damage.
Franklin County took the game in the bottom half, on a pair of bizarre errors.
With one out, a Lion batter popped up along the line between home and first base.


MCHS captures third state title in four years
Madison County is Georgia's best when it comes to rifle shooting.
No qualifiers - no ifs, ands or buts - are needed to support that statement.
In three of the past four years, Madison County has captured the Georgia High School Association's rifling title, setting a new state record each time.
Saturday, the team trekked back to the Wolf Creek Olympic Shooting Complex in Atlanta and captured the crown with a 1,160 effort, topping the Raiders' old 1,159 state record effort of two years ago. Madison County defeated East Coweta, which fired a 1,145, getting stellar performances from all four starters. Woodward Academy finished well back in third with a 1,123.
Two-time GHSA individual state champion Crystal Dove captured the silver this year, posting a 293 (99 from the prone position, 95 from standing and 99 from kneeling). She finished one shot behind East Coweta's Amber Christ, who fired a 294.
"I wanted to place first individually," said Dove, the team's lone senior. "But winning as a team means more. It feels really good. I'm really proud of the team. We couldn't have asked to do any better."
Aaron Phillips fired a 290 (98-96-96) to place fourth individually. Kristi Smith shot a 289 (99-94-96). And Krystle Waldroup tallied a 288 (98-94-96).
Repeating this year's feat could be tough for the Raiders next year, with long-time standout Dove moving on to Murray State in Kentucky on a rifle scholarship.
But Dove said she feels the squad has plenty of talent returning with rising seniors Waldroup and Phillips and rising juniors Smith and Josh Chandler.
"I wish them luck next year and hope they can do it again," said Dove.




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