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APRIL 7, 2004

Diamond Tigers Trying To Stay Afloat In Region
While still far from being mathematically shutout from the playoffs, the Commerce baseball team faces a steep hike if it wants to play beyond the regular season.
More than half the region slate remains but the diamond Tigers’ postseason hopes have taken some lumps as three straight losses heading into Tuesday night’s action have dropped them into seventh place with a 2-5 record in an 8-A region that’s seen some strange happenings this year.
“We’ve got an uphill battle in front of us,” Tiger head baseball coach David Cash said.
Commerce’s preseason goal was to vie for the fourth spot out of the region in the Class A state playoffs but it might have to take a number right now as there’s a log jam of teams fighting to fit in that top four mix.
In fact, four teams (Athens Academy, Lakeview Academy, Jefferson and Social Circle) had 5-2 region records or better heading into Tuesday night’s action and defending region champion Prince Avenue wasn’t one of them as the Wolverines have four losses.
“There’s been a bunch of people knocking each other off,” Cash said. “There’s no clear-cut team. It’s been an unusual year.”
The Prince Avenue was in fifth in the region as of Tuesday afternoon and Athens Christian — which Commerce was to face Tuesday night (results weren’t available) — was one spot ahead of the Tigers in sixth.
The surprise team sitting in the upper echelon of the region right now might be the squad the Tigers came up just short against Friday night — Social Circle.
The Red Skins are off to 5-2 start in 8-A after edging Commerce 3-2 and are currently tied with Jefferson for third in the region.
The Tigers will now start the round of rematches against 8-A competition as they face Towns County Friday night.
The Indians are in eighth-place with just one region win, surprising slumping Prince Avenue 11-5 this past week. The Tigers beat Towns County 7-3 back on March 9 but Cash said his group might be running into a different team this time around.
“Now that they’ve beaten Prince, I don’t know what to expect,” he said.
A contest with first-place Athens Academy (6-1) follows Tuesday.
Commerce, however, will go outside of the region before those two contests, facing Oglethorpe Thursday at home at 5 p.m.
“It will give us a chance to play some different people and pitch some people who haven’t pitched this year and see how they can do,” Cash said of the game.
As for this past Friday night, the Tigers were knotted with Social Circle 2-2 midway through the contest before an unearned run in the fourth inning turned out to be the deciding score.
The Tigers drew first blood in the loss with a score from Hank Tiller off an infield single from Dusty Vaughn in the first inning.
But Social Circle tied the contest with a solo homer in the second from Tyler Beal and then went ahead later in the inning with an RBI single from T.J. Peters, putting the Red Skins up 2-1.
Commerce answered in the third as Tiller hustled home from second with two outs off another infield hit from Vaughn to tie the game at two.
But Social Circle broke the tie an inning later, putting runners at first and second in the bottom of the fourth and scoring on wayward throw by Commerce on a double play attempt.
Pitching with a one-run lead, the Redskin’s Chris Anderson held the Tigers’ bats in check the rest of the way, facing only nine Commerce hitters over the last three innings.
“He got stronger as the game went on,” Cash said.
Anderson, who’s just a freshman, struck out 11 Tigers on the night and allowed just five hits in the complete game win.
“He pitched very good but we like the way we played,” Cash said.
The loss to Social Circle came three days after a 13-8 setback to rival Jefferson last Tuesday.
The Dragons used five long balls to beat the Tigers as Jefferson picked up its fifth region win.


Two in a row for Diamond Leopards
The Banks County varsity baseball team defeated Rabun and Dawson counties last week.
A game scheduled for Tuesday, March 30, against Greater Atlanta Christian was rained out and re-scheduled for April 15.
The Diamond Leopards will travel to Lilburn on Thursday to battle Providence Christian. The game will begin at 4:30 p.m.
“Dawson beat Providence so I feel like we should come out on top,” said Banks County coach Mike Williams.
The team will host Lumpkin County on Friday at 5 p.m.
BANKS 6, DAWSON 5
A home run, a double, a few hits and an excellent defense earned Banks County the win Monday night against the Dawson County Tigers, 6-5.
Fast innings plagued the first few innings of the game with only four batters for each team stepping up to the plate in the first. Diving plays at first by Tyler Scroggs resulted in several outs for Dawson.
Dawson put the first run on the board in the third. Alex Cruce pitched the team out of a jam with the bases loaded and one out.
Tyson Baxter tied the score in the bottom of the third with a home run. Banks County added two more in the fourth. Tim Meeks hit a single that sent one player home before the out at first. Justin Crocker sent Scroggs in for three.
After Dawson scored two in the fifth, Crocker made an over the fence catch to keep the score tied at three. A diving catch at first base by Scroggs got the third out and praise from fans of the opposing team.
“Nice play Scroggs,” shouted Dawson County fans.
Cruce hit a double in the bottom of the fifth, which sent Williams home. A baulk by Dawson County’s pitcher advanced Cruce to third and another to second. A hit by Ramon Vasquez sent two home and brought Banks County to 6.
Three quick outs in the top of the sixth kept the score 6-3. Cruce caught a line-drive to make the third out. Dawson County scored two runs in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough and Banks County recorded the win.
“It was a good win for us,” Williams said. “It keeps us in the thick of things, trying for the number four spot at region.”
Baxter had one home run. Cruce had three hits, one of which was a double. Vasquez had two hits. Crocker had a hit.
Cruce pitched a complete game and recorded the win. He gave up five runs, two were unearned, and had three strike outs.
BANKS 9, RABUN 8
The Banks County baseball team defeated Rabun County Thursday, April 1, 9-8.
Scroggs started the pitching and went five innings. He gave up five runs, three of which were earned. He also had a hit.
Cruce releived Scroggs and pitched four innings, the game went into extra innings and ended in the ninth. He gave up three runs, two were earned, and struck out five batters. Cruce recorded the win.
Cruce scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. In total, he scored three runs, had two hits and stole three bases.
Baxter got the hit to send Cruce home to win the game. He went two for five, had two doubles, earned two RBI’s and scored one run.
Vasquez had two hits.

Surging Dragons win for fifth time in a row
The Jefferson baseball squad is in the midst of its longest winning streak of the season. Tuesday the Dragons improved to 10-4 overall with a 7-2 victory over region foe Social Circle.
The win lands Jefferson (6-2 in Region 8-A) in third place in the region, just a game back of and Athens Academy (7-1). Mark Price got the win for the Dragons, pitching his second complete game in five days, and striking out 11 batters. He allowed just two unearned runs in the first inning and held the Redskins scoreless the rest of the game. Social Circle managed just four hits off the left hander.
Tyler Beal started for the Redskins, but struggled with his control in three innings of work. Seven walks and a hit batter aided the Jefferson cause.
Brandon McQueen came on in relief of Beal and gave up four hits and three runs over the next two innings
For the game, the Dragons had seven singles, with J. Wood going 2-for-3 plus a walk, Prince Cruz going 2-for-2 plus a walk, Kory Potts going 1-for-2 with two walks, Tyler Holbrook going 1-for-2 plus a walk, and Andy Songer receiving three walks to go along with a hit. Heading into the game both the Dragons and Redskins were tied for third place in the region standings, however Jefferson’s win enabled the Dragons to move into sole possession of the spot and keep pace with second place Lakeview and the Spartans.
In other action from last week:
Jefferson 10,
Lakeview Academy 5
Jefferson became the first team to knock off Region 8-A leader Lakeview Academy at their new ballpark last Friday, as they handed the Lions a 10-5 defeat in Gainesville.
The Dragons nickeled and dimed Lion pitching in each of the first three innings, scoring once in each frame to take an early lead. Eight runners stranded during that time, left the Lions within striking distance however. A big fourth inning broke the game open though, with Jefferson sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring seven times. Lakeview used three pitchers and allowed seven hits in the inning, with a walk and an error also proving costly. In all, six of the 10 Jefferson runs on the day were earned.
Price started and again gave a gutty performance for Jefferson. He pitched a complete game after throwing 74 pitches just two days prior. In all he gave up five earned runs on seven hits, walking four to earn the win.
The biggest Lion threat came in the sixth inning with Price beginning to tire somewhat. However, back-to-back strikeouts against the heart of the order thwarted the Lakeview comeback attempt. Price finished with five strikeouts in the game.
Jefferson’s bats were led by Kory Potts (2-for-4 with a pair of doubles), Tyler Langford (2-for-5). J Wood and Prince Cruz both each also went 2-for-4.
Lakeview pitchers struggled with their control for much of the day, as they hit four Jefferson batters. The Lions were led by Trey Wood’s 2-for-3 day and Tony Cash (2-for-4).
Jefferson 9,
Oglethorpe County 5
Jefferson defeated Oglethorpe County 9-5 last Saturday in a non-region contest hosted by the Class AA Patriots.
Oglethorpe jumped out to an early lead after Ryan Martin belted a first inning home run. Jefferson starting pitcher J.J. Brueshaber settled down after that, shutting the Patirots out for the the next three innings. He finished the day after five innings, giving up six hits and allowing five runs (two earned) and striking out five.
Brueshaber was relieved by Prince Cruz, who pitched the final two innings, retiring the side in both. Jefferson was led at the plate by Brian Wells’ 3-for-3 effort, including a double and a home run. Kory Potts went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, and Tyler Holbrook added a 2-for-3 day. Shane Bell started for the Patriots, going five innings and giving up nine hits and allowing nine runs (7 earned). Darius Roth led the home side at the plate. He went 2-for-3 in the game.


Not too shabby
Panther golfers looking strong so far this season
With April now in full swing, the Jackson County golf program is preparing for the second half of what promises to be an exciting golf season.
The Jackson County girls have recorded six wins and two second place team finishes through eight matches so far this season. Their latest win came this past Thursday at Sandy Creek over Jefferson and Johnson. The Lady Panthers, led by a pair of low medalists on the day in Kayla McNeal and Courtney Franklin, were able to hold off Johnson by five strokes, posting a team score of 100. That result was preceded by a strong showing at Chateau Elan on March 31, during which the squad managed a second place showing despite tough conditions.
The Lady Panthers’ 102 trailed only Eastside by two strokes during the four-team match.
With the nine-hole match portion of the season now behind them Jackson County is looking toward the second half to make some noise heading into the region tournament April 22.
The squad begins a stretch of four 18-hole matches heading up until the 8-AAAA showdown at Chateau Elan.
For head coach Shawn Lindsey, the way the squad has performed of late has been impressive considering the conditions in March and early April can tough.
“We were very pleased with the scores considering the weather was pretty bad — cold, wet and windy,” Lindsey said. “After spring break we will begin playing 18-hole matches to prepare for the region tournament.”
Not to be outdone this season are the boys at Jackson County. Despite a record not quite as impressive as the girls, the Panthers’ depth and relative consistency have seen them win once and take second place so far this season. Like their counterparts they have been struggling to overcome some tough conditions of late, with win wreaking havoc most recently during last Thursday at Sandy Creek.
The Panthers shot a season low 174 during that match, while Jefferson took first place on the day with a team score of 166. The low mark by Jackson County was a sign that the squad is beginning to come around, according to head coach Joe Lancaster. while
“That’s the first time we’ve had all six of our guys in the 40’s,” Lancaster said. “We’re beginning to peak at the right time, and I think the guys can really see ‘Hey, we can do something. This team has got a lot of potential.”
With only one senior, Richie Elliott, among the top echelon of players, the Panthers are having success despite a relative lack of experience.
No. 1 player AJ Sibcy has been a catalyst for the Panthers so far this season. He shot 40 last week along with No. 2 Seth Adams, another of Jackson County’s more consistent low scorers. Craig McDaniel and Kirk Minish rounded out the top four for the Panthers with rounds of 47 apiece.
“Potential is what you do with it,” Lancaster said. “But any given day these guys can compete with just about anybody.”
Jackson County plays Johnson at Chicopee Woods on April 14.


At the top
Raiders atop the region after first 9 games
Note: results from Madison County’s Tuesday night game with Habersham Central were unavailable.
Regardless of Tuesday night’s outcome with Habersham Central, the numbers through the first nine games don’t lie — Madison County has been among 8-AAAA’s most impressive teams.
The squad carried an 8-1 region mark into Tuesday night’s action (results weren’t available as of press time) after splitting a pair of contests Friday night against defending region champion Loganville.
Based on unofficial records posted on the Georgia Varsity Sports Net, that would tie Madison County with 8-1 Newton County and put it two games ahead of the Raiders’ Tuesday night foe, Habersham Central, which had a 6-3 record.
The diamond Raiders had been perfect in 8-AAAA until Friday’s double header with Loganville, dropping their first region contest of the year, 9-3, in the opening game.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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