With its starting pitchers throwing strikes all night with three different pitches, Jefferson’s offense had no need to post more double-digit run totals.
Led by efficient starting pitching, the No. 1-ranked Dragons — who had scored at least 10 runs in every region game — picked up 3-0 and 5-0 wins over region opponent Hart County in a Friday doubleheader to close out a three-game sweep of the Bulldogs.
“That makes it easy on our hitting,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said of the mound effort in both games.
Derek Vaughn threw 6 1/3 shutout innings in the opener, allowing four hits and striking out three. Brycen Jewell produced similar results in the nightcap, throwing six innings and allowing three hits while striking out six. Jefferson improved to 9-0 in region play and 16-0 overall with the pair of wins.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve really worked on and worked on and worked on — three pitches for strikes,” Knight said. “Getting ahead in the count with whatever you throw — it doesn’t matter what pitch we call — and they both did that tonight.”
Knight said Vaughn demonstrated his best command of three pitches he has all year.
“I’m really proud of Derek — (he was) around the plate with three pitches tonight, which he hasn’t done this year so if he does that, he’s going to be really good the rest of the year,” Knight said.
Both sophomore starting pitchers nearly threw complete games, but Knight opted to turn to his bullpen for some work in both contests. Zac Corbin retired both batters he faced to close out the first game, while Rem Maxwell worked a perfect seventh inning in the second game to end the night.
“Probably both of them (Vaughn and Jewell) could have finished the game, but we needed those other guys to throw because we’re going to need them somewhere down the line,” Knight said.
Offensively, Trey McEver delivered the biggest hit of the first game. With Jefferson clinging to a 1-0 lead, the junior hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Knight had actually called for a hit-and-run, but McEver managed to get the ball out of the park. The ball struck the top of the fence before going over.
“He just stayed short on the ball,” Knight said. “He was trying to hit through the infield, and he’s so strong that he hit it out.”
It was McEver’s first career home run — junior varsity or varsity.
“That home run was huge,” Knight said.
Sammy Elegreet, who went 2-for-3 in the first game, drove home the Dragons’ only other run with an RBI single in the third inning.
Jefferson then finished with 10 hits in the nightcap, led by Lane Watkins who went 3-for-3 with a double and RBI. Ryan Godfrey was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, and McEver went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Dragons remain unbeaten halfway through the region schedule, with sweeps in all three region series so far. Jefferson has series remaining against East Jackson (April 2, April 5 doubleheader), Franklin County (April 9, April 12 doubleheader) and Morgan County (April 16, April 19 doubleheader). Knight said the players must stay locked in, especially with the team on vacation from school next week.
“We’ve got spring break coming up, so we’ve got to keep our guys focused, but I think we’ll be fine,” he said.