JACKSON County won its final home game Thursday and made sure to enjoy it.
For starters, coach Tommy Fountain joined in on the postgame sprints usually reserved for players.
Later on, after Fountain had addressed the team, several Panthers snuck up and doused the unsuspecting coach with the water cooler.
A drenched Fountain said his team’s 4-2 win over Banks County in region consolation play — despite some defensive struggles — made for an enjoyable afternoon.
“We had great approaches at the plate,” said Fountain, whose team improved to 16-8. “The pitching was definitely great. It was a good way to go out at home.”
Jalen Banks (5-2) — who threw a one-hitter last week — and Jesse Tallent combined to throw a one-hitter Thursday as Jackson County reeled off its eighth-straight win.
Offensively, the Panther offense was able to score four runs in five innings off Banks County ace Taylor Foster, who had to throw 129 pitches.
Fountain said his team wanted to show that the South subregion was the toughest in 8-AA and believed the group showed that with the victory over the North subregion champions.
But it all started with the pitching.
Banks set down the first nine batters he faced and worked five innings for the win. He surrendered the one hit, walked four and struck out four.
Banks was pulled with no outs in the top of the sixth when he issued a leadoff walk. Tallent came on and retired six of seven batters he faced, striking out four in two innings of work.
At the plate, Jackson County built a 3-0 lead after a Trey Sorrells RBI single in the first inning, an RBI single from Andy Williams in the third inning and RBI double from Jesse Tallent in third inning.
Two Panther errors — Jackson County committed three in the game — helped Banks County get two of those runs back in the top of the fourth, but Jackson County answered in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Corso tripled and later scored on Austin Robinson’s sacrifice fly.
The victory keeps Jackson County on track for what could possibly be a program-best 18 wins.
For that to happen, the Panthers must beat Union County Friday on the road and then defeat defending Class A champion Hebron Christian Academy Saturday afternoon on the road.
Though no one is sure of the exact record for program wins, 18 would rank right up there, Fountain said.
“It would definitely be one of the best,” Fountain said.
Jackson County was coming off a 12-2 win over Fannin County Wednesday. The Rebels actually led 2-1 for most of the contest, but the Panthers scored 11 runs in the final three innings to turn the game into a blowout, including seven in the fifth.
Kolin Zimmer (2-0) pitched four innings for the win. He surrendered two hits, two runs (both earned) and three walks while striking out two.
“We really swung the bat well, particularly late in the game,” Fountain said. “Kolin Zimmer struggled in the first inning, but then settled down and looked good.”
Jackson County pounded out 13 hits. Quinn Grogan went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, followed by Jesse Tallent (2-for-4, home run, two RBIs), Trey Sorrells (1-for-4, two RBIs) and Austin Robinson (2-for-4, RBI). Tallent homered for the second time in as many games.
The Panthers were able to unload their bench.
“We got 21 kids in the baseball game and Chase Dunlap and Casey Dunfee got their first (pitching) appearances of the season and looked really good,” Fountain said. “I was very proud of both of them.”