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MAY 7, 2003

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The end of the road
The 2003 Diamond Leopard season has been a wild weather year.
During the month of April and in early May, Banks has had to postpone almost as many games as it played.
And if Mother Nature cooperates this week, the Leopards (7-15, 2-12) may wrap up the current season.
Bnks is slated to close out the season Friday against Wesleyan at home. The baseball team also plans to hold its senior night ceremonies at that game.
Banks will also be playing Providence at home on Thursday. The Leopards were scheduled to face the Stars Monday as well. That game was rained out, and could be made up during a double-header Thursday or possibly on Monday.
Coach Mike Williams said the region representative indicated the season could be extended until Monday to accomodate rain-out games. The playoffs, which Banks won’t be eligible for, start the middle of next week.
Wednesday afternoon, the Leopards were slated to face Lumpkin County. However, the threat of severe weather could have cancelled that game. The outcome was not available at press time.
Williams said the Lumpkin County and Wesleyan games had to be played since the outcome could determine those two team’s playoff seedings. However, like Banks, Providence will not be making a trip to the tournament.
After pulling out an early lead, Banks fell behind late and lost to Dawson 10-4 at home.
“We are hitting the ball a little better but we’re still in a slump defensively,” Williams said. “You can’t beat good teams when you give them outs.”
The Leopards tied the game in the bottom of the first after Chase Martin scored on a ground out.
In the third, Banks took the lead. Ross Oliver, who reached on an error, moved to third after Chris Denton put a ball off the third baseman’s glove.
Kris Drummond followed with a double to the right field fence to pick up two RBIs, giving Banks a 3-1 lead.
But Dawson picked up three more in the fourth to regain the lead.The Tigers went on to get six more and take the win.
Banks’ other run came in the fifth. R. Oliver got on base off a hit. Jacob Williams drove him in for the score.
Everyone on the team had a hit for the Leopards. J. Williams was 2-4. C. Denton went 2-3. R. Oliver was 1-3 with two runs scored. K. Drummond was 1-4 with two RBIs.
Kyle Duncan pitched five solid innings for the Leopards. R. Oliver also got some action in 1 2/3 innings before pulling a muscle. Alex Cruce closed out the game.
In the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday, Banks fell 5-2 after error ridden first and second innings.
Banks game up five unearned runs in the opening two innings, one in the first and four in the second.
“We were never able to catch back up after getting in a hole,” Williams said.
Tyson Baxter and C. Denton both scored in the first for Banks’ only runs, though the team did have several other scoring oportunities.
C. Denton was 2-3 with a double in the contest. J. Williams had both the RBIs in the game off a hit in the first.
After scoring 10 runs, the Leopards failed to hold Rabun defensively as they took a 13-10 loss in the second game of a doubleheader.
“When you score 10 runs, you should be able to play good enough defense to win,” Williams said. “We didn’t play good enough defense to win.”
Banks scored a run in every inning of play and had the lead going into the sixth inning. But Rabun picked up five that inning to take the lead.
“We just couldn’t hold it,” Williams said. “We were in a position to win we were just unable to do what we needed to do from the mound and the defensive standpoint.”
T. Baxter and C. Denton were both 2-3 in the contest. Corey Morris was 2-4 from the plate.
C. Martin, who lead the game off with a triple, went 1-4 with three runs scored.
C. Denton, who was a key pitcher last summer but hasn’t thrown due to an injury this year, got some time on the mound late in the game. He saw 2/3 of an inning, allowing two unearned runs.

Berry takes third in region high jump; Diamond Panthers may reschedule
The jackson county boys track and field squad wrapped up their season last week at the region meet in Winder. Panther standout Terrell Berry narrowly missed out on qualifying for the state meet in Jefferson next week. He took third in the high jump with a leap of six feet. He was two inches shy of the second-place finisher. Berry set the school’s high jump record earlier this year, clearing 6-5 at a meet at Panther Stadium.
Diamond Panthers may have games remaining
Although it was unknown as of press time Wednesday, Jackson County may not yet be finished on the baseball diamond this season. Tuesday’s postponement against Cedar Shoals, which is in contention for one of four playoff berths from Region 8-AAAA, was not immediately rescheduled. However, the game may have to be made up because of its impact on the region standings. The Panthers (3-23, 2-17) defeated the Jaguars earlier this season for one of their two region wins. Also, last Friday’s scheduled game against Newton, which was also postponed due to an illness on the Newton squad, may also need to be made up.
If needed, the games would have to be made up soon. The deadline for region play to end is Saturday.
Ricardo retires as top Panther goal scorer
Jackson County boys soccer midfielder Arturo Ricardo recently capped off his senior season and finished his career as the school’s all-time leading goal scorer. Ricardo edged out Jeremy Fiedman for first on the career scoring list with 53 career goals. Friedman scored 46 career goals before graduating last season. Ricardo also holds the school record for career assists with 38, ahead of Alex Bates’ 24. Jackson County recently finished their season with a record of 2-15 overall in boys play, while the girls squad went 1-15.

Wrapping It Up
“Playing for pride” is amongst the most tired and overused clichés, but it’s what the Tiger baseball team will be doing this week.
With a state playoff berth now a mathematical impossibility for the Commerce baseball team, a strong finish will be the lone consolation left on the table for the diamond Tigers as they enter their last two games of the season.
Commerce, Region 8-A’s seventh-place team (5-10 in 8-A as of Tuesday), takes on Rabun Gap today (Wednesday) on the road at 5 p.m. in a makeup of a rained-out April 25 meeting and Athens Christian at home Friday at 4:30 p.m.
The squad faced Social Circle (7-8 in 8-A) this past Tuesday but results weren’t available.
Even if the team beat the Red Skins and won its last pair of games this week, the diamond Tigers, who’ve assured themselves a losing region record with 10 losses, could finish no better than fifth in 8-A.
Prince Avenue, unbeaten at 16-0 in the region heading into the final week, has the region title wrapped up while Athens Academy and Jefferson will jockey for second-place this week. Lakeview has assured itself of no worse than a tie for the fourth and final spot out of the region in the state playoffs after picking up its 10th win of the year this past week.
Heading into this past week, Commerce held slim hopes that, even with eight losses, it could still qualify for the post season with a late-season winning streak and some help from other region teams.
However, those hopes got slimmer with a 13-3 loss to Lakeview last Tuesday and were then eliminated in an 8-3 setback to Jefferson this past Friday.
Jefferson struck for four scores in the final three-innings Friday to turn a close contest into a comfortable win in an 8-3 victory over Commerce.
The win gives Commerce’s intra-county rivals a sweep in the season series.
The Tigers, who fell by 10 runs to the Dragons in the first meeting, put themselves within striking distance during the middle innings of the contest with a three-run fourth which cut Jefferson’s lead to 4-3.
In that inning, Commerce loaded the bases and then got its scores with a bases loaded walk to Richard Dailey, a sacrifice fly from Mitch Redmon and a run off a botched Dragon double play.
The Tigers looked to be in position to keep the inning going with just one out but Jefferson ended Tiger threat with a double play, forcing a fly out in center field and then gunning down Josh Haynes who attempted to tag to third.
That twin killing would be the turning point of the contest.
Jefferson immediately added an insurance run in the following inning after getting an infield single on a grounder that took a bad hop on at third on Redmon and then got two more off an infield single and an error in the sixth to increase the lead to 7-3.
The Dragons tacked on another score in the seventh with an RBI single to left field.
Commerce attempted a last-gasp, two-out rally in the bottom half of the inning with Adam Weddington ripping a two-out, bases loaded RBI single to score Sam Cutler, but Chad Jordan was tagged out trying to score.

Still in the hunt
A TIGHT REGION 8-A race for home field advantage in the first round of the Class A state playoffs will be determined one way or another this week, with the deadline for region games to be played fast approaching.
Tuesday’s action on the diamond was rained out, with the most important game on that day scheduled to be Jefferson at Lakeview Academy. That contest has been tentatively rescheduled for today (Wednesday) at 4:30 p.m., however a drenched field at Lakeview Academy could further postpone the match up until Thursday.
One thing is certain however — the hunt for the second seed out of 8-A is much tighter now than it was a week ago.
Two important results last week have left the Dragons tied with Athens Academy for second place in the region standings. The Spartans were defeated by Lakeview last week while the Dragons held form against Commerce on Friday. That said, the Spartans would earn the No. 2 spot if the season ended today because they have the edge in the first tie breaker — runs allowed head-to-head. Athens Academy defeated Jefferson 14-7 in the two school’s last meeting in Athens on April 24, while the Dragons were victorious 7-6 at home earlier this season.
Equally important to the standings will be the outcome of the Prince Ave. vs. Athens Academy game slated for Thursday. Should the Spartans prevail in that contest they would clinch second-place, Dragon coach Chuck Cook confirmed Wednesday.
“If it comes down to a situation where we win out and (Academy) wins out then they would clinch (home field), so we’re hoping for some help,” Cook explained while noting the importance of gaining the home field advantage in the playoffs.
“Of course its important,” he said. “I think its extremely important because of the way our home field is set up and the way our crowd can influence things when they show up in a playoff can really take the other (team’s) crowd out of the game.”
If the Dragons are not able to play Lakeview Academy by Thursday, Cook stated that Saturday would likely be the next date available for rescheduling. Jefferson is slated to host Social Circle on Friday at 5 p.m. in their last scheduled region game of the season.

Dragons edge Tigers to sweep season series
Jefferson struck for four scores in the final three-innings Friday to turn a close contest into a comfortable win in an 8-3 victory at Commerce. The win gave Jefferson the season series sweep over their intra-county rivals. They defeated the Tigers by 10 runs earlier this season at home. In addition, the victory combined with an Athens Academy loss to Lakeview allowed the Dragons to tie the Spartans for second-place in the region standings. Both teams are 13-3 in region play.

Nearing the finish line
While thunderstorms pound north Georgia, the Madison County baseball team’s postseason prospects hang in the balance.
At 13-7 in Region 8-AAAA and currently in second place by half a game, the Diamond Raiders were to have their regular season wrapped up and know their postseason fate by now but mother nature has had different plans.
This week, the team still has two makeup contests — against Rockdale County and Clarke Central — which will decide if the team will extend its season.
Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth speculated that one win would clinch his team’s second straight trip to the state playoffs. However, with only seven losses, the team controls its own destiny to grab a second seed out of the region and host the first round of the state playoffs.
While the team has yet to secure a playoff berth, Griffeth praised the team for putting itself in such a position given the roadblocks it’s been thrown through 24 games this year. The team overcame an 0-3 start in non-region play and then had to weather the losses of two of its top pitchers — Ben Jeffers and Brent Burkhalter.
Griffeth praised the role of the pitching staff — particularly Michael Young, Brad Osborne and Micah Sales — in stepping up and putting the team in a position to go to the postseason in its first year in AAAA.
“We’re excited period,” he said. “We really haven’t thought about it being AAAA. Nobody would have thought we’d be with Burkhalter and Jeffers being gone.”
Madison County is slated to play Rockdale County today (Wednesday) in a remake of the second game of Friday night’s double header against the Bulldogs. The game has already been rained out twice and Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth said it’s 99.5 percent likely that today’s contest will be wiped out. If that’s the case, the teams will play Friday at 5:30 p.m.
The team’s remake with Clarke Central is set Thursday at 5:55 p.m. on the road. — Ben Munro
The storm washed out the second game, but not before the Raiders wiped away Rockdale’s come-from-behind effort in the opening game of a scheduled twilight doubleheader.
Madison County scorched Rockdale early, scoring one run in the first inning on an error by the third baseman, then adding two more in the second on back-to-back home run blasts by Conrad Carey and Brad Osborne. The Raiders tacked on another run in the third when Trey McCay smashed a double off the wall to score Brent Burkhalter, who reached on a throwing error by the third baseman.
Raider starter Ben Jeffers, who gave up five hits and five runs in five innings, shut down Rockdale in the first three innings but faced a one-out bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth after an error and two singles. Rockdale’s Kevin Boyd made him pay with a grand slam home run to right field to knot the score at four. The homer was followed soon after by an RBI single and Rockdale led 5-4.
But the Raiders responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth, when a fielder’s choice to third by Will Ryder drove home Osborne, who led off the inning with a double.
Madison County blanked Rockdale in the top of the fifth, then jumped back ahead with a run in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a bases loaded, line drive single to right field by Osborne.
Rockdale jumped ahead in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs on a double off reliever Osborne.
Play was suspended briefly in the bottom of the inning due to the weather, but the squads completed the game as threatening clouds loomed, with Madison County tallying two to take home the victory. Ryder opened the inning with a walk, then Tony Tittle doubled. A Young grounder to second scored Ryder to tie the game at seven, while also moving Tittle to third. Two batters later, the Rockdale third baseman mishandled a grounder by McCay, allowing Tittle to score the game-winning run.
The Raiders tallied 10 hits, with Osborne leading the way, going 3-for-3 with a homer, double, two runs scored and two RBIs. Young was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs, a stolen base and an RBI. Tittle went 2-for-4 with a double and a run. Carey was 1-for-3 with a homer and McCay was 1-for-4 with an RBI double.
“This was another lesson for them,” said Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth about Friday’s win. “For them to jump up (4-0), you almost sensed they (the Raiders) put it in on coast,” he said. “Then the next thing you know they (Rockdale) hit a grand slam and they’re right back in it. With a short field like ours, teams can get runs in bunches.”
Griffeth said the close games this year are a good learning tool.
“I think the games overall this season have prepared us for what happened Friday night,” he said. “In 2000, we 10-run ruled everbody the second time around the region. Then when we went to the playoffs we weren’t prepared (for the close games). The parity of our region helps you deal with situations that don’t go the way you want them to.”

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