THANKS to another standout pitching performance by Drew Carson and a late-go ahead score, Jefferson beat East Jackson 3-2 Monday and kept its hopes for a region playoff berth alive.
The Dragons went ahead by a run in the top of the seventh when Max Ford scored on a passed ball, and Jefferson held on to that lead in the bottom of the seventh as Carson finished off a complete-game, four-hit gem.
“He had another great night,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “Every time he takes the mound, we have a shot at winning … To hold some of the folks that he has to very few runs, that’s really good.”
Jefferson entered the season with virtually no experience in the starting rotation, but Carson – who didn’t even pitch last year as a freshman – has responded with quality starts all year long, like he did Monday in allowing no earned runs and striking out 12 batters.
“That’s a relief for a coach,” Knight said of Carson’s stability as a starter.
Carson, who went 2-for-4 at the plate Monday, is also the club’s leading hitter and doubles as a middle infielder when he’s not pitching.
“He’s been one of the guys who’s made a big difference,” Knight said.
Jefferson and East Jackson were tied 2-2 for most of Monday’s ball game. Jesse Tallent, who went 2-for-4, drove home Jefferson’s first score with an RBI double in the first, while Austin Thompson (1-for-2) provided an RBI single in the second.
Knight noted the importance of the victory, which put the Dragons into a tie for fourth in the subregion with rival Jackson County. Only the top four squads in each subregion make the 8-AA postseason.
“We had to have that one to keep ourselves alive for a playoff spot,” Knight said.
The team was coming off a frustrating one-run loss three nights earlier.
Tallent smashed a lead-off homerun over the center field fence in the bottom of the seventh, but Jefferson couldn’t complete a rally in a 3-2 home loss to Oglethorpe County Friday.
The Dragons fell to Region 8-AA South’s last-place team despite outhitting the Patriots 12-6.
With Jefferson trailing by a run in the final inning after Tallent’s blast, Andrew Bartek doubled off the center field wall, but the Dragons stranded him at second to end the game.
Jefferson’s inability to capitalize on an opportunity in the bottom of the fifth, and Oglethorpe County’s ability to cash-in during the top of the sixth proved to be difference in the ball game.
With the contest tied at one, the Dragons loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with no outs but failed to score. In the top of the sixth, Oglethorpe County loaded the bases with one out and pushed across two runs.
Jefferson missed another opportunity in the bottom of the sixth, coming up empty after loading the bases with one out.
The Dragons trailed early on, falling down 1-0 after the top of the first inning. But Jefferson pulled even in the bottom of the second when Andy Nicholas provided a two-out RBI single.