By R. Alan Richardson Sports Editor
Morgan County’s baseball season is off to a good start with two wins against Monroe Area a week ago 17-0 and 14-7. The games were in preparation for the first region matchup against Jefferson on Tuesday. Coach Merritt Ainslie commented, “We did what we needed to do in order to be ready for our first region foe Jefferson this week. Max Wadsworth pitched a solid game in game one. He also went 3-3 with a grand slam. Our defense is getting better each week. We need to finalize a few more positions defensively this week in practice. We will do that through daily competitions to see who is ready to handle pressure game situations. We enter this week with confidence but also understand that we aren’t where we want to be to compete with the best in the state. We will get there.” The Dogs faced off with Jefferson at home on Tuesday, but came up short in a pitcher’s duel 3-1. The first ceremonial pitches were tossed out by Morgan’s double state championship basketball coaches, Jamond Sims and Josh Reeves. They both threw out perfect simultaneous strikes from each side of the mound that had the crowd stirred up in congratulations for the two teams. Morgan fell behind by two after the first inning when Jefferson got a runner on first after a single and a double to right centerfield that scored a run. A Bulldog error allowed the second run to cross the plate and it was uphill after that. Jefferson scored another run in the second on a walk, hit batsman, wild pitch and sac fly that pushed the runner across. The Dogs had a difficult time getting to Jefferson’s ace, Taylor Wilkes, after that. He worked five innings and was tough on the Bulldog’s offense allowing only one run. After the first two innings, Wadsworth settled in and pitched three and one thirds innings of great baseball. Morgan got on the board in the fourth when Wadsworth was hit by a pitch. Pinch runner, Hunter Christian, advanced to third on two consecutive passed balls and scored on a single by designated hitter Trey Patterson Patterson advanced to third with the bases loaded, but Maclane Zant was called out after a grounder to short on a very questionable call at first on a bang-bang play that had the coaches and fans shaking their heads. It could have made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. Neither team scored after the fifth inning, and it was lights out for the Dogs.
Morgan only mustered three hits over seven innings from two pitchers that had their number. Jaron Ferguson pitched well in relief over one and a third innings striking out two and allowing no runs. He came on in the sixth with runners on second and third. After striking out the first batter and walking the second to load the bases, he slammed the door with another strikeout to keep Jefferson off the board. Ferguson also shut down the opposition in the top of the seventh in a three up and three down performance to give Morgan one final opportunity in the bottom of the seventh, but it was to no avail.