Patriots come out on top against Smiths Station, Hazel Green; Jets’ Davenport throws no-hitter
By CALEB ODOM (email@example.com)
MADISON — It was the top of the seventh inning and all Smiths Station batter Jake Middleton could do was spike his bat toward the dugout and stomp away from the batter’s box after striking out looking.
Bob Jones pitcher Tanner Hermesch had a satisfied smirk on his face as he struck out three Panthers batters looking in the final inning to secure the 5-4 win for the Patriots on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“I was dialing up the fastballs,” Hermesch said.
“When they can’t hit it, they can’t hit it.”
The top of the seventh inning was just the final note to a game that had virtually everything in it, and when the last Smiths Station batter took a called three strikes, it was Bob Jones who had bagged an important victory on a day that would feature two Patriot home wins.
“That win will pay off down the road because we know we can answer back when we are down early and be able to come back,” Bob Jones head coach Jared Smith said.
The Panthers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Patriots starting pitcher Braden Booth began to struggle.
“I just lost feel for my fastball,” Booth said.
“I felt like I was getting a little bit pushy with my action, but after that I just got fluid with it and just tried to fill it up as much as I can.”
Before Booth was moved to shortstop in the same inning, he had recorded a pair of strikeouts but had also given up two doubles and three walks.
The Patriots turned to Nathan Mayfield to get the last out of the opening inning to keep the score at 3-0 Panthers.
Booth returned to mound in the next inning, and he had his confidence back.
Meanwhile, the Bob Jones bats got to work on mounting a comeback in the bottom of the first with an RBI single by Zack Johnson that made it 3-1 Smiths Station.
Panthers’ lead was trimmed further in the bottom of the second inning to 3-2 thanks to CJ Bush’s walk coming all the way around to score.
Bob Jones knotted the game up at 3-3 in the third when Sam Mitchell’s double plated Booth who had reached on a throwing error by the third baseman.
The bottom of the third also could have haunted the Patriots as they had the bases loaded with one out and Smiths Station right fielder Jarrett Bonniot twisted around to make an important final out that kept the game deadlocked.
Right on cue, the Panthers retook the lead 4-3 in the top of the fourth when Jason Tharpe’s walk scored on a throwing error.
But Bob Jones could not be denied in this game as the Patriots promptly answered in the bottom of the fourth in the form of Sam Mitchell coming up clutch with an echoing home run to right center.
“My thought process was trying to help the team out at that point,” Mitchell said.
“I think some of the guys look at me as a leader, so I was just trying to set an example. Saw the ball, hit the ball man.”
The baseball cut through the silvery sky toward the construction area at Bob Jones’ campus and over the fence.
Mitchell rounded the bases full of emotion as his team cheered him on from the dugout and foul territory.
The Bob Jones designated hitter gave home plate an emphatic stomp as he yelled at his team who preceded to beat on him in jubilation.
The stage was set in the bottom of the sixth inning when Booth came through with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give Bob Jones the 5-4 lead for good.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball,” Booth said.
“Get it in the outfield. Only one out so pretty much any ball hit into the outfield can score a run.”
Bob Jones offensively unloads on Hazel Green in Game 2
The Patriots kept the momentum going in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader with a 10-6 defeat of Hazel Green in the cold driving rain.
The Bob Jones bats went off as both Sam Mitchell and Braden Booth had home runs against the Trojans.
Patriot starting pitcher Ben Arn gave his team five solid innings with eight strikeouts and three walks while allowing five hits and three runs.
Bob Jones took the 1-0 lead in the second when Mitchell went deep with a solo shot to left.
Hazel Green answered with a 2-run jack by Blake Hall in the top of the third.
After retaking the lead 4-2 with small ball in the bottom of the third, the Patriots expanded their advantage to 6-2 thanks to Booth’s 2-run homer over the fence in left in the fourth inning.
A 4-run bottom of the sixth inning by Bob Jones that was fueled by Mitchell’s 3-run base-clearing double essentially put the game away for the Patriots as the rain continued to fall.
James Clemens’ Davenport throws no-hitter
On Friday, Feb. 24 in Madison, James Clemens baseball held Smiths Station hitless when Luke Davenport tossed a 7-inning gem that included 17 strikeouts and just three walks.
The Jets scored a pair of runs in the first and third innings along with a five spot in the fifth for the 9-0 victory over the Panthers.