Facing an opponent against which Jackson County couldn’t afford to make mistakes, Panther mistakes ended up weighing heavily.
Jackson County (15-6, 4-3 Region 8-AAAAA) fell 6-0 to Class AAAAA No. 5-ranked Greenbrier Monday (March 29) in a long road trip to the Augusta area.
“We made too many mistakes, and we gave them too many freebies,” Panther baseball coach Matt Bolt said. “We lost the freebie war.”
Bolt noted that multiple dropped pop-ups played a role in all six of Greenbrier’s runs. The Wolfpack also scored two runs off passed balls.
Jackson County was limited to five hits by Wolfpack starter David Bell. Spencer Muffuletto led the Panthers offensively, going 2-for-3.
“They’re a great team,” Bolt said of Greenbrier. “They were the best defensive team that we’ve seen all year. We had plenty of opportunities to score runs, and they made outstanding plays.”
Jackson County’s Kedric Zimmer threw five innings, allowing six runs, though just three were earned. He surrendered six hits and three walks, while striking out four batters.
Greenbrier (15-4) led 1-0 after three innings but plated five runs over the course of the next three frames to pull away.
The series concludes Wednesday (March 31) at 5:55 p.m. at Jackson County as the Panthers aim for a split.
“It’s going to be a tall task,” Bolt said. “That’s a great baseball team. I’m confident in our guys, and we’re excited for the opportunity to play a really good team.”
Bolt, whose team is 2-3 in its last five games, said his squad has been somewhat stagnant since an extra-inning loss to Apalachee on March 20.
“But our kids are working hard,” he said. “It’s a brutal region. It’s a tough region. Anytime you toe the line against somebody, you’ve got a chance to get beat in our region. We’ve got to take advantage of opportunities that we’re given and not make the mistakes we’ve been making right now.”
The Panthers entered the Greenbrier game on the heels of a 5-1 loss Friday (March 26) at Clarke Central.
Clarke Central’s Jack Martin limited the Panthers to one-run on five hits in a complete-game performance in that setback. Nick Streuer brought home Jackson County’s lone run with a first-inning RBI single to score Muffuletto, who reached base via a double. Logan Holycross went 2-for-2 with a double.
The Gladiators, however, answered with two runs in the bottom half of the first inning and added two more in the bottom of the fifth and one more in the bottom of the sixth.
Two days earlier, a key three-run fourth inning propelled the Panthers past Clarke Central, 5-3, in last Wednesday’s (March 24) series opener at Jackson County. The Gladiators answered with three runs in the top of the fifth inning before Jackson County added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning.
Zimmer threw six innings for the victory, allowing nine hits, three runs (one earned) and two walks while striking out eight batters. Hayden Gregory worked a scoreless inning for the save, striking out one batter. He surrendered no hits or walks.
The Panthers finished with seven hits at the plate, sparked by Bryson Evans, who went 2-for-3 with RBI singles in both the third and fifth innings. Justin Ethridge went 2-for-3 with a double.