JV Dogs maintain perfect season after brush with Newton

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By Nick Nunn staff writer

Despite a close call against Newton County last week, the Morgan County JV Diamond Dogs are still undefeated for the 2014 season. The slim 8-7 victory over Newton County spurred on to beat Commerce 18-2 the next day, ending the game in five innings. As of Monday, Morgan County’s JV Dogs had only four regular season games remaining before the JV League tournament, which will take place on April 19. Morgan County struck first against the Newton County Rams last Tuesday, March 25.

Justin Miner drove Austin Rapier home with a sacrifice fly for the Dogs’ first run of the game, but the Rams were able to tie the score again in the top of the third. The score remained tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the third inning, when Morgan County let loose with a string of six runs for a 7-1 lead. Austin Hale, John Wyatt, and Dalton Cole earned the RBIs for the Dogs, while Gage Brown and Austin Rapier advanced the case with hits of their own.

Rapier, on the mound for the Dogs, kept the Rams’ bats quiet until the sixth inning, when Newton County was able to earn six runs, tying the game at 7-7. With their winning streak in jeopardy late in the game, the Dogs were able to manufacture a single run in the bottom of the sixth, which ended up being enough to secure their eleventh win of the season. Miner reached on an error before being brought home on three consecutive walks by the Rams’ pitcher.

“Of the three walks, two of the guys earned their way to base,” said Morgan County JV Head Coach Doug Connelly. “Austin Hale and John Wyatt both fell behind early in the count and fouled some tough pitches off to keep their at bats going.” “They were patient and disciplined in their approaches and just found a way to reach base.” Connelly also commended Rapier’s pitching performance through the first five innings of the game. “Austin Rapier had a quality start and controlled their hitters after the first couple of innings. He made a minor adjustment that paid off in a big way.”

Rapier gave up one earned run in the first five innings of the game, while striking out three batters and allowing only four hits and no walks. The Commerce Tigers proved no match for the JV Dogs last Wednesday, March 26, as the Dogs trounced the Tigers 18-2 in five innings of baseball. “We had 18 hits on the day,” said Coach Connelly. “Our guys just hit everything that was thrown at them.” Morgan County’s rout began in the first inning, when five Diamond Dogs made their way across the plate.

By the end of the fourth inning, another four Morgan County runners had scored to make the total number of runs scored nine, but the Dogs weren’t quite done yet. With a sizeable lead already on the board, Morgan County doubled their score with an additional nine runs. The 16-point lead ended the game due to the run rule after the Tigers finished out the bottom of the fifth. “It was one of those days that everything seemed to go our way,” said Connelly.

Luke Zimmerman and Dakota Young each had four hits during the game, earning five RBIs and seven runs combined. Ryan McMichael went 2-3 against Commerce, with three RBIs and two runs scored. Zimmerman pitched for the Dogs, only allowing one earned run in the first four innings and striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced.

On Tuesday, April 1, the JV Dogs faced Salem on the road, and they will play Stephens County today in Stephens County for the final away game of the regular season. Next Tuesday, April 8, the Dogs will take on North Oconee at home and will play their final regular season game at home next Thursday, April 10, against Eastside. The time and location of the JV League tournament, which will take place on April 19, has not yet been determined.

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