THE JACKSON County baseball team took one on the chin Monday night but will have ample opportunity to redeem itself with a few big upcoming games.
The Panthers (9-3, 0-1) fell to Oconee County 10-1 in opening region play but face the Warriors again (today) at 5:55 p.m. at home before a Friday-Monday series with Morgan County.
As for the nine-run loss to the Warriors, Jackson County coach Tommy Fountain said it’s hard to explain how a team that got off to a 9-2 start could have struggled like it did, “except for it’s baseball and there’s not many teams that run the table,” Fountain said.
“You kind of regroup and go and play again,” he said.
Playing on the road after a nine-day layoff, Jackson County trailed the Warriors 4-1 before surrendering six runs in the bottom of the sixth. A combination of several walks and a three-run homer in that pivotal inning allowed Oconee County to turn a close game into a rout.
“The sixth inning kind of got out of control,” Fountain said.
Jackson County also had some defensive issues as three errors through the first six innings led to three of the Warriors’ first four runs.
Fountain said Monday’s loss was an example of everything going wrong in every crucial situation.
“If we make one of those crucial plays, then it changes the complexion of the game,” Fountain said.
It was also a case of allowing a very talented team too many “freebies,” according to Fountain. The Panthers issued eight walks and hit three batters on top of committing several errors.
“When you do that, you’re not going to beat very many bad teams,” Fountain said. “You’re definitely not going to beat somebody as good as Oconee County.”
The Warriors might have had revenge on their minds as well after Jackson County upset the Warriors last year.
“You could tell that there was a little extra going into (Monday) night,” Fountain said.
Offensively, the Panthers had just two hits, one of which was a double from Andrew Fogarty.
Coleman Barbee started for the Panthers and “didn’t throw bad,” according to Fountain. He worked five innings, allowing five hits and struck out six batters.
Despite the rough night, Jackson County players appear to be taking the loss in stride.
“I was very interested to see how they responded, and it was very clear that they recognized that last yesterday (Monday) was a hiccup,” Fountain said.
Following today’s (Wednesday’s) rematch with the Warriors, Jackson County hosts Morgan County on Friday. The Bulldogs are off to a 9-4 start. While not overpowering on the mound, Morgan County is scrappy, good defensively and very well coached, Fountain said.
“They’re a solid club,” Fountain said.
Jackson County travels to Morgan County on Monday.
“It’s going to be very important for us to try and get that win on Friday because their place is a very difficult place to play at,” Fountain said.
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