Top Union Grove 9-8 at home Saturday but fall 4-2 on road Monday
The Greyhounds were hoping it was the shot in the arm they were so desperately needing.
After winning only one of their first nine games, all non-region contests, the Jones County boys survived a late rally by Union Grove in Gray on Saturday to take a 9-8 victory in their Region 4-5A opener.
“Hopefully this will get us going,” coach Jason Page said. “I told the guys earlier to just forget what had happened before, that our season starts over with the region games. We came out and played a lot better.”
But the euphoria didn’t last long. Union Grove won the rematch 4-2 in McDonough on Monday, making Jones County 2-9 for the season and 1-1 in the region.
The Greyhounds were blown out in a few of their losses during the rough start, but they also lost several close games, several when they let leads slip away in the late innings.
It appeared that might happen again Saturday.
Jones County built an 8-2 lead in the first three innings against Union Grove, but the Wolverines kept chipping away, scoring two in the fourth and three in the fifth to whittle the lead to one run.
Starter C.J. Whitehead gave up seven runs, though only four were earned, on seven hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out two.
Jacob Thompson came on to pitch the seventh, trying to protect the 8-7 lead. It appeared he would overcome a leadoff walk when the next two batters were retired on a pop to short and fly to center. But pinch-hitters Turner Cook and Mikale Hodges came through with consecutive singles to tie the game.
But the Greyhounds did not fold.
Aiden Payne doubled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and after Keagan Baxter walked, Dom Bass singled in the winning run.
Payne went 2-for-2 with the double, one RBI and two walks. Whitehead was 1-for-3 and drove in three runs. Thomson, Trent Hardy and Kendall Wood were all 2-for-4.
“We got pretty good pitching and were getting the bat on the ball. And after they tied it in the seventh, we came right back to score and win it, so that was good,” Page said.
Union Grove took an early 2-0 lead. Kaufman tripled and scored on a two-out single by Joey Pourron, who stole second and scored on a double by Chase Gammage.
The Greyhounds immediately erased that lead with three runs in the bottom of the first.
Baxter and Bass led off with walks, and a double steal put them at second and third. Whitehead singled them home. A wild pickoff throw moved the runner to third, and Thompson singled in the go-ahead run.
Jones County added five runs in the third, sending 11 men to the plate. A walk and consecutive singles by Thompson, Hardy and Wood brought in the first run. Logan Miller was hit by a pitch to score another, and Payne drew a basesloaded walk to drive in the third. A sacrifice fly by Baxter drove in the fourth, and the fifth scored on abases-loaded walk by Whitehead.
Union Grove got two runs back in the fourth on a single, two errors and a passed ball.
An error, a double by Gammage and a three-run homer by Dominick Elam cut Jones County’s lead to 8-7 in the fifth.
Thompson started Monday’s game in McDonough. He walked one and struck out two while giving up seven hits in five innings, but only one of the four runs he allowed was earned.
Landon Califf struck out one and gave up one hit in a scoreless inning of relief.
The Greyhounds scored single runs in the first and second, but they were held to only two hits by Union Grove’s Ryan Hutchinson and Hunter Fuls and could do no more damage.
Baxter reached on an error, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Whitehead in the first.
In the second, Wood walked, moved to second on a ground out and scored on a single to left by Thompson.
The Wolverines answered Jones County with a run in the first, two in the second and one in the third to secure the victory.
Still, the Jones County coach says he has hope for the season.
“All our goals of doing well in the region and getting into the state playoffs are still ahead of us, so hopefully we can get going,” Page said.
The bad weather through February and so far this month hasn’t made it easier. The Greyhounds have had four games postponed by rain, and on field practices have been few, though they have been able to hit in the batting cages. They made up one rain out against Mary Persons and will host Houston County April 8, but makeups against Warner Robins and West Laurens are pending.
“The problem is finding open dates and umpires to work games because so many schools are in the same position and trying to schedule makeups on the same dates,” Page said.
Jones County is scheduled to play at Woodland Wednesday and to host the Wolfpack on Friday. Next week the Greyhounds play at Locust Grove on Monday, host Locust Grove on Wednesday and host Ola on Friday.
Photos by CHUCK THOMPSON/Staff
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