Jefferson Dragon Baseball 2009

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2010- JHS Dragon Baseball News

Dragons ousted from state Baseball playoffs 

May 13, 2010

JEFFERSON - A never-ending fourth inning unraveled Jefferson on Thursday in the second round of the Class AA playoffs, as the Dragons lost 13-3 to Blessed Trinity in the deciding Game 3.

Nine Titans batted in the bottom of the fourth, tallying six hits, two home runs and six runs.

"They're a great hitting club," Jefferson senior Jake Fields said. "I couldn't say one bad thing about them. They're a great team. They can go all the way."

The tumultuous inning blew open what had previously been a close game.

The Titans' Jake Skole and Merrick Metcalf each hit three-run home runs in the fatal frame, extending a two-run lead to 11-3.

"That was big, but I'll be honest with you, I never felt safe with any lead here," Blessed Trinity coach Andy Harlin said. "Just that lineup, one through nine, they can all hit and they're one swing away from getting back in it. So you never feel safe until the game is over."

The hope for Jefferson, Fields said, was to mirror Game 2 of the best-of-three series, where the Dragons won 3-1.

Instead, the Titans posted a repeat of the opening game, where they won easily, 24-2.

The stark discrepancy in each game was baffling, Harlin said.

"That's a good question, and I don't know," he said. "We knew Jefferson was a great team, and you see on the fence the tradition they have. You just never know when you're going into a Game 3. If you're in a Game 3, you have a chance and you just have to play your game and see what happens."

Blessed Trinity, the home team after winning a coin toss, scored a run in the first inning with a sacrifice fly by Rock Rucker, plating Skole.

Jefferson answered in the top of the second, with an Andrew Barteck two-run homer, pushing the Dragons ahead 2-1.

Sticking with the one-upping trend, the Titans scored two more runs in the bottom of the second to retake the lead and another two runs in the third.

Meanwhile, Rucker settled on the mound. The sophomore pitched a scoreless third, and with one out in the fourth handed the game to the bullpen. Rucker pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking out six.

The Dragons worked a run across in the fourth, but was the last score of the season, as the bottom half of the inning put the game out of reach.

A sixth-inning two-run home run by Titans' Chiefy Azar ended the game by mercy rule.

"We gave it our best, but after that we couldn't do anything else," Fields said. "The better team won."

Fields - the batting hero who hit two home runs in Game 2 - finished 2-for-3, but was stranded on base twice.

"I don't know how you pitch to Fields," Harlin said. "I have no clue. He covers the plate, and he barrels everything up. That kid is probably the best hitter I've ever seen in 21 years, and I mean that."

Blessed Trinity hosts Piece County on Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

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Jefferson Baseball

Fields, Sexton help Dragons force Game 3

Published Thursday, May 13, 2010

After being embarrassed 24-2 in the first game of the second round of the Class AA playoffs, Jefferson had one more chance to keep its baseball season alive against Blessed Trinity .

Behind the pitching of Jamie Sexton and the offense of Jake Fields, the Dragons (25-4) were able to extend the series to a third game after defeating Blessed Trinity, 3-1, in Game 2.

"We talked about this about halfway through the season, about what happens after Game 1, whether you win big or lose big, about how you handle it," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "I'd say that 99 percent of high school kids lay down, these guys absolutely did not and that's character."

Sexton hurled a complete-game three-hitter, allowing only a solo home run to Alex Cruz in the first inning for all of the Titans' scoring.

Despite the fact that Blessed Trinity's bats exploded in the first game, Sexton wanted the ball in the big situation for Game 2.

And he delivered.

"I just had to keep my focus and coach Knight's been teaching all year to keep focused and don't let the other team in your head," Sexton said. "I just kept my pitches low and they were working for me and man it was a (heck) of a game."

Fields delivered all the offense that Jefferson would need, as he teed off twice on long home runs that accounted for all three of the Dragons' RBI.

His first blast came in the first inning off Cruz to set the tone for Game 2.

After the first game saw Blessed Trinity score seven times in the first inning, Jefferson knew that getting out to an early lead couldn't do anything but help them.

"That's what we talked about in between games was just to score first, that will be a big difference," Knight said. "You don't want to be the visitors on your own field, but it was nice to bat first after that first game."

Fields would later unload on another pitch in the fifth to give Jefferson some breathing room at 3-1.

The night was not a breeze for Sexton, however. Twice he pitched his way into and out of jams to keep the Dragons ahead.

The third inning saw a single, error and walk load the bases with nobody out, and the heart of the Titans' order at the plate.

But Sexton struck out two batters looking and forced Blessed Trinity cleanup hitter Rock Rucker - who homered twice in the first game - to pop out to third base and end the threat.

Blessed Trinity would rally with two outs in the fourth to load the bases, but Sexton got a flyout to center field to end the threat.

"That's such a downer for the other team to have bases loaded and nobody out, and they don't score ... that's hard to recover from," Knight said. "Even for a good hitting team like them, that was the turning point in the ballgame."

The third and deciding game will be at 5 p.m. today as both teams look to advance to the quarterfinals.

After winning Game 2 the way they did, Jefferson wished they could have stayed to play again Wednesday.

"We're excited. We can't wait, and we know they're excited," Fields said. "They're a great ball team and we're just gonna come out and see what happens."

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CLASS AA State Baseball

Jake Fields and Jefferson will face Blessed Trinity today in the Class AA playoffs.

CLASS AA

May 12, 2010

No. 2 Blessed Trinity at No. 1 Jefferson

► When: Doubleheader today, 5 p.m.

► Records: Blessed Trinity (20-8), Jefferson (24-3)

► Key players: Blessed Trinity - Jake Skole (Sr.), Alex Cruz (Sr.), John Hagan (Sr.). Jefferson - 1B Jake Fields (Sr.), 3B Kyle Hardy (Sr.), SS Lucas Redd (Sr.).

► Need to know: Blessed Trinity eliminated Jefferson from the Class AA playoffs last season, beating the Dragons in two games, 10-8 and 3-1. The Titans were eliminated by Cook in the next round. ... Blessed Trinity has won nine straight and 14 of its last 15 games. With a 10-2 record in Region 6-AA, the Titans finished second behind defending state champ Lovett, which went 11-1. ... The Titans have scored a combined 59 runs in their last four games. They are averaging 9.2 runs per game while allowing four runs per game. ... Blessed Trinity won the Hilton Head Seahawk Invitational this year, winning four straight games against teams from South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. The Titans scored a combined 52 runs in those four games. ... Jefferson won its second straight Region 8-AA title in just its second year as a Class AA school. ... The Dragons swept Crawford County in the first round, winning the first game 6-2 and the second game 11-1. Jefferson last advanced past the second round in 2008, where the Dragons were swept by Pacelli, the eventual Class A state champ. ... The Dragons have not lost since April 12, winning 10 straight since dropping a 15-5 game to Oconee County. During that stretch, Jefferson has outscored its opponents by a combined 92-21 margin.

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May 7, 2010

Starting pitching powers Dragons to Sweep.

The Dragons' starters not only picked up a win on the mound, but also served as the main spark on offense.

Such was the case on Friday for Jake Fields and Jamie Sexton, who led the Dragons to 6-2 and 11-1 wins, respectively, in a sweep of visiting Crawford County in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.

"All year long, you think you throw a guy on the mound and their hitting may suffer a little bit, but those two guys don't," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "They sometimes seem to hit better when they're pitching than when they're not pitching."

In the first game of the day, Fields connected on two deep home runs to center field. The first put the Dragons (24-3) on top in the first inning after he allowed two early runs to the Eagles (13-12).

The second came in the fourth inning to put Jefferson up 5-2.

In the second game, Sexton started the scoring for Jefferson.

He drove a pitch off the center field wall, driving in a run and starting the 11-run onslaught.

For the game, Sexton was on base three times, going 2-for-4.

"As a pitcher, you always want to get some insurance, that way you're not stressed on the mound," Sexton said. "Then you can just go out and pitch and play your own game."

Fields claims his approach never changes, pitching or not.

"When I pitch, honestly I'm not that focused on hitting, I'm probably more focused on pitching," Fields said. "We still try to focus on hitting when we're pitching, but we just do what we can."

The second game was marred by four Crawford County errors and numerous base-on-balls. Though Jefferson scored 11 runs, they did it on only six hits.

One of those hits came off the bat of Andrew Bartek in the fourth inning, a two-run home run that made the score a comfortable 6-0.

The top seed out of Region 8-AA, Jefferson didn't know what to expect out of south Georgia's Crawford County.

But Knight told his players to play the Eagles as if they were playing Fannin County, the No. 4 seed of Region 8-AA, a team that played the Dragons competitive this season.

"When you get into the playoffs, it doesn't matter what their seed is, they're gonna be a tough team," Knight said. "You have to be ready to go no matter who you're playing."

Jefferson will now take on the winner of the Blessed Trinity-Chattooga series in the sweet 16. Knight feels his team has a good shot of going far because of the 10 games his team has played that have been decided by less than four runs.

"This team's played close ballgames all year long," Knight said. "It prepares you better for the playoffs better than, nine or 10 run wins, so that's good, so I think we have that over some of our teams from the past."

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April 30, 2010 

JEFFERSON - Jefferson's Jake Fields won his 10th game and hit his 11th and 12th home runs of the season Friday as the Jefferson Dragons claimed their fourth region championship by sweeping a doubleheader over Riverside Military Academy.

The Dragons (22-3, 19-1) took a 14-1 victory in the opener and won the Region 8-AA crown outright in game two with a 14-4 win.

"You never want to go into the playoffs with a loss," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said.

Fields went the distance in game one, striking out seven and allowing only one hit, a single to Orlando Lynch in the fourth. He showed off his bat in game two with a pair of two-run home runs to center field.

"This is incredible, especially on Senior Night," Fields said. "I never thought we'd be able to (win region) all four years."

The Dragons hit five home runs on the night as Kyle Hardy, Jamie Sexton and Drew Carson joined Fields with long blasts.

Hardy's homer was a three-run shot after an intentional walk to Fields in the fourth inning of the second game.

"I'm used to it. Jake's the best hitter in the state and he can't stand getting walked," Hardy said. "It motivates me and it was a relief to back him up like that. I was sitting fastball. The pitch was away and I just went with it and hit it to the opposite field."

Knight also had high praise for Fields.

"Obviously he's one of the best players in the state," he said. "More importantly than that, he's a great leader on and off the field."

Fields and Hardy are just two of 11 seniors who were honored before the game. The Class of 2010 has tallied a record of 66-4 in region play and an overall record of 98-15. They've been to the sweet sixteen, elite 8 and advanced all the way to the final four in 2007, a season Fields remembers like it was yesterday.

"I never thought I'd be at this moment," he said. "I remember coming out as a freshman. It's crazy how time flies."

The Dragons, ranked sixth in Class AA, will open play in the state tournament on Friday at home.

"We still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be," Knight said. "We'll play it one series at a time and we hope to play a while," Knight said.

"I can't wait," Fields said. "I know we have exciting things ahead of us."

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Dragons clinch first place in regular season region standings

April 28, 2010

► JEFFERSON 12, BANKS COUNTY 9: At Homer, Jake Fields pitched the final inning to earn the win as the Dragons won a Region 8-AA shootout with Banks County.

Jefferson (20-3, 17-1) had 10 hits and was led by Fields, who had two hits and four RBIs, Drew Carson, who had a home run and scored twice and Andrew Bartek, who had one hit and two RBIs.

The Dragons, who have first place in the region locked up, will close out the regular season on Friday, hosting a doubleheader against Riverside Military Academy.

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Dragons victorious over Rabun County

Diamond Dragons down Walnut Grove 

► JEFFERSON 10, WALNUT GROVE 0 (five innings): At Jefferson, Kyle Hardy, Jamie Sexton and Jake Fields teamed up to throw a no-hitter against visiting Walnut Grove. Hardy pitched 31/3 innings with five strikeouts, Sexton pitched 2/3 of an inning and Fields pitched the fifth inning and recorded two walks and two strikeouts.

Sexton and Andrew Bartek led the Dragons offense as both hit home runs. Sexton went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and Bartek was 1-for-1 with two RBIs. Kyle Hardy had one hit and three RBIs and and Fields added a hit and an RBI.

Jefferson (17-3, 14-1 in Region 8-AA) will host a doubleheader against Rabun County beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday.

April 21, 2010     _______________________________________________________

Fields emerges from brother's shadow                 JEFFERSON - Jake Fields admits it: He's lived in the shadow of his older brother Josh.

                                      
Jefferson’s Jake Fields is batting over .500 this season with 10 home runs.

Josh, a former pitcher at Georgia who is now in the Seattle Mariners organization, can throw a fastball in the high 90s. Jake can't.

Josh is working his way to the big leagues. Jake will play baseball next season at Middle Georgia.

Jake's aware of the expectations that were placed upon him when he arrived at Jefferson four years ago, but it hasn't deterred him from the path he wanted to set for himself.

When asked if he had been in his older brother's shadow, Jake was quite frank about it.

"Oh, absolutely," he said. "But I try not to let it bother me. It's not that big of a deal. We're two totally different players."

In high school, Josh was a superb hitter, but later gained notoriety for his pitching at Georgia.

While Josh could hit, Jake made his splash from the get-go as a hitter at Jefferson. For the past four years, he's hit over .500. This year, heading into Wednesday's 9-1 win over Banks County, Fields was batting .563 with 10 home runs.

When Fields arrived at Jefferson, coach Tommy Knight said he might have felt some pressure to live up to his brother's success. But over time, Fields had his own success and a made a name for himself.

"By the time Jake got here, Josh was known more as a pitcher than he was a hitter," Knight said. "He hears it a little bit, but I don't think he does a whole lot."

While Fields has been compared to his brother, teammate and close friend Caleb Meek said Jake doesn't let Josh's accomplishments block his own goals.

"He looks up to his brother a lot, but he is also focused on the now and the task at hand, and what he's doing at the moment," Meek said. "He's set his own standards."

Fields' arrival on the Jefferson baseball team as a freshman was a bit of a surprise for Knight. Fields' family, which resides in Madison County, elected not to put Jake into Prince Avenue because the school "changed a lot of things."

The Fields decided on Jefferson as a destination for their son after contemplating their options.

"I didn't even know who Jake Fields was until they talked to the athletic director and told him he is Josh's little brother," Knight said. "I said it was probably a good thing. Let's see if we can figure a way to get him in."

Fields' swing is smooth and fundamental, one his father taught him and was later tweaked by Knight.

Against Banks County on Wednesday, he crushed a ball off the center field wall for a single. He went 2-for-3 with a walk.

"He's an extremely hard worker when it comes to baseball or anything else," Meek said. "He's an extremely hard worker when it comes to baseball or anything else. He and some of the infielders will have competitions all the time in practice. He's just a competitor and works hard in practice."

Fields' life is fairly simple. Besides baseball and schoolwork, he spends most of his energy with Athens Church, located downtown.

At Athens Church, Fields helps with children programs and camps.

"He's a very strong Christian and believes strongly in Christ and lives by that day by day," Meek said. "I think he has a very strong personality and he's friendly with everyone. He doesn't have any enemies at all. He's one of those likable guys everyone is going to be friends with."

On the baseball field, Fields is arguably Jefferson's best player. But he doesn't act that way, according to his coach.

"One of the best things about Jake is the kind of kid he is," Knight said. "He's not just a good ballplayer but he's a good leader, a good role model. He's a kid who always has a smile on his face. He comes to work every day. 'Jake, let's go, hustle.' That's something I don't think I've ever said to him. That means as much to our team as anything else."

His hustle, drive and determination have led to his success on the high school diamond. But when asked if there was an area he needed to work on, Fields didn't limit his baseball shortcomings to one specific area.

"Everything," he responded. "There's always somebody out there getting better than me and I don't like to think of it that way. But I do like to keep thinking that so it keeps me going."

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Friday, April 16, 2010

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

JEFFERSON 9, BANKS COUNTY 1

Caleb Meek went 1-for-3 with a home run, a run scored and an RBI to lead the Dragons to the win Wednesday at home.

Jake Fields went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Kyle Hardy went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, Drew Carson went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI and Andrew Bartek went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Jefferson (16-3, 13-1 Region 8-AA), which plays host to Walnut Grove at 5:30 p.m. April 20.

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JEFFERSON 15, OGLETHORPE COUNTY 2 (five innings): At Jefferson, Jake Fields pitched a complete-game five-hitter and two home runs, a double and five RBIs as the Dragons cruised in Region 8-AA play.

Drew Carson (one hit, two runs, three RBIs) and Caleb Meek (three hits, three runs, two RBIs) also homered for Jefferson (15-3, 12-1), which had 13 hits against four Oglethorpe County pitchers. Jason Demos and Tyler Bailey also had two hits for the Dragons, who are ranked sixth in Class AA.

A.J. Hayes, Cliff Neal, Travis Hill, Matt Beyatt and Matt Echols all had hits for the Patriots (9-9, 3-9).

April 13, 2010

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Oconee County 15, Jefferson 5

Oconee wins big at Foley

Behind Adam Frazier's two doubles and a single, the Warriors collected 12 hits on the day and forced Jefferson to use four different pitchers.

"It was a real good day," Frazier said. "Any time you can get a couple hits, it's a good day and I really like playing here."

Due to both squads having region games coming up later in the week, neither team threw their top pitchers in the contest. But Oconee County's bats were simply better on this day, as the Warriors ended the game before head coach Stan Fricks could get some more of his younger players in the game.

"We wanted to hit the ball and we did," Fricks said. "We didn't get some of the kids in the game we wanted to get in the game, but we didn't plan on having a six-run second inning."

Oconee County's Avery Robinson led off the Warriors' big second inning with a single to right field before four straight walks by Jefferson's Cain Finch undid the Dragons. Frazier later doubled in two runs before Robinson doubled in his second trip to the plate, driving in another two runs.

Walks broke Jefferson's back as the Dragons piled up 11 of them, seven of which crossed the plate. Although they wanted to get young pitchers experience, Jefferson head coach Tommy Knight expected more from his staff.

"In matter of importance in the region, of course, we're not concerned at all, but crap, when you're playing your young pitchers on the mound, you want to give yourself a chance to win and with 11 walks you're not going to win many games anywhere," he said.

Frazier, Robinson, Dustin Phillips and Davis Aiken all had multi-hit games for the Warriors, and Phillips scored three times on the day.

"I know Jefferson is a really good team and to come out here and do what we did with the bats says a lot," Frazier said.

Drew Carson went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs for Jefferson. Andrew Bartek had a triple and two RBIs in the fifth inning for the Dragons. Oconee County's Tyler Gunnin (2-0) pitched four innings, giving up three runs, striking out three and earning the win.

A unique situation for any high school team is to play at a field as nice as Georgia's Foley Field. It's a place where Frazier said he can see the ball well and venue where Fricks is pleased his team got a chance to play.

"It's a great experience and we're very appreciative of Georgia letting us come out here and do this," he said. "The high school kids can say that they played at Foley Field and it will be a lifetime memory for them."

Oconee County (16-2, 9-2 in Region 8-AAA) will host Mountain View at 5:55 p.m. today. Jefferson (14-3, 11-1 in Region 8-AA) will host Oglethorpe County at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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JEFFERSON -- The second game of the week between the top two teams in Region 8-AA couldn't have been played without excitement, controversy, and a little bit of irony, could it?

It definitely was all of those and more as North Oconee avenged a humiliating loss Tuesday at the hands of Jefferson to pull out a 5-4 victory.

"We were real frustrated after that loss (Tuesday), and we were just looking to come in here and swing the bat a little bit and be efficient with our pitches and just try to come out of here with a win," North Oconee's Taylor Hicks said, noting the Dragons took a 17-5 victory earlier in the week.

And get the win the Titans did, though not in an ordinary fashion.

In the seventh inning, with North Oconee (15-2, 10-1) leading 5-4, Titans shortstop C.J. Hoag's errant throw to first base on a one-out grounder prompted Jefferson's Jason Demos to try and advance to second.

North Oconee catcher Jordon Ellis, who was backing up first, picked up the ball and gunned down Demos for the second out of the inning.

"My hat's off to Jordon Ellis, who I put behind the plate (in the sixth inning)," North Oconee coach Dwayne Sapp said. "(That was) the play of the year, because all catchers are taught to (back up first), but not all will do that."

Sapp then had Dragons slugger Josh Fields intentionally walked to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Kyle Hardy, who had already gone 2-for-2 with a home run for the day.

But on the second pitch of Hardy's at-bat, the designated runner for Fields made a run for second base on a wild pitch, but once again, Ellis threw him out after he overran the base.

"Fields is another-level player and you just can't let him beat you because I know he's already won a couple games for them this year," Sapp said of his decision to issue a pass to the 6-foot-3 senior right-hander. "It was a big gamble, but I told the guys, 'Hey, what do we got to lose?' and it worked out."

After Jefferson's Jamie Sexton tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a home run, the sixth inning added a little controversy to the day.

With two outs and the bases loaded after North Oconee had already scored a run, Angelo Lombardo was at bat when a checked swing appeared to have hit Lombardo on the hand. The home-plate umpire ruled that it hit the bottom of the bat and Lombardo was thrown out to end the inning.

After checking with the field umpire, the arbiter at home ruled that the pitch did indeed hit Lombardo, but since he was swinging, the pitch was called a strike. With another opportunity to hit, Lombardo cashed in with an RBI single up the middle with what turned out to be the game-winning run.

"There's some things that happened that inning that could have gone differently -- I mean, they had five outs," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "That didn't cost us the ballgame, though. You play six other innings besides that one inning."

Hicks picked up the victory for the Titans, pitching six innings, and Robert Kittle earned the save as he closed out the seventh. Taylor Maxey and Clayton Wing both homered for North Oconee in the second inning.

Fields had a single and a double to go with his intentional walk.

Though both teams are tied atop the region, Jefferson (14-2, 11-1) technically has the upper hand because of its 12-run victory compared to North Oconee's one-run win. The Titans know where they stand and know they need help, but were more concerned about their victory Friday than their spot in the region.

"They beat us three out of four last year and then the first game this year, so it just feels real good to get a win under our belts against them," Hicks said.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, April 10, 2010
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BOGART - A clash between the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in the state, both undefeated in Region 8-AA and battling for the top spot in the region didn't live up to the hype expected as Jefferson crushed North Oconee 17-5 Tuesday in only five innings.
Jefferson’s Jamie Sexton screams as his team waits for him at home plate after hitting a home run Tuesday.
The Dragons (14-1, 9-0) seemed to be taking batting practice at the expense of North Oconee (13-2, 8-1).

Jefferson hit the ball hard almost every time it made contact and piled up 15 hits, six of those going out of the park.

See a photo gallery from the game

"It was unbelievable and crazy," said Jefferson's Jake Fields, who hit a solo home run in the first inning. "We got out here and knew we'd have to be ready to go and swing the bat and we were just hoping to put a few runs on the board in the first inning and keep it going, and ... we really accomplished our goal tonight."

Jefferson hit a home run in every inning of the contest, including two in the second. Following a Drew Carson walk and two strikeouts, Caleb Meek stepped to the plate and launched a shot to left-center field for a two-run homer.

Jamie Sexton then came to the plate and made it back-to-back as he launched a shot to deep left as well. Sexton also homered in the fourth.

Andrew Bartek also went deep twice for the Dragons, in the third and again in the fifth.

"The wind was blowing out," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight quipped. "We're going to try to hit the ball right up the middle, no matter what, and if we get a pitch inside we'll turn on it and it just happened to be flying out tonight."

With the score 6-1 at the start of the fourth, the game didn't seem out of reach for North Oconee. But Jefferson put up six runs in the frame, which all but put the game out of reach. The Dragons tacked on five more in the fifth, just for good measure.

"You can't explain 17 runs against a good team like them," Knight said. "It was just our night. Everything we hit fell and next time we play them it could be the exact opposite."

Both teams will find out shortly if that statement is true, as they will see each other again in only three days as North Oconee will travel to Jefferson this Friday in a rematch.

Because of the runs allowed by the Titans, they now must figure out a way to get back in the region race, even if they win on Friday.

"Now we need help, because even if we beat (Jefferson) Friday, we have to hope they lose because the run differential is not in our favor," North Oconee head coach Dwayne Sapp said. "You hate to see that you've lost one game and now you need help already, but we've got to take care of our own business now."

Fields pitched a complete game for Jefferson, earning the win. He also walked three times at the plate, in addition to his first-inning homer. Bartek finished the night 3-for-4 with seven RBIs.

Thad Glenn was 2-for-3 for the Titans with an RBI and two runs scored.

Jefferson now has a leg up on the rest of the region and, with the exception of North Oconee on Friday, doesn't face too difficult of a schedule the rest of the way.

But don't tell them it's getting easier.

"We're going to approach the game the same way, just come out and get ready to play," Knight said. "If we swing the bat like we did tonight, we got a chance to win a lot of ballgames."

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday, April 07, 2010
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Dragons sweep Fannin County

Jamie Sexton allowed three hits and two earned runs, striking out six, to win the opener. Kyle Hardy pitched four scoreless innings and struck out nine to win the second game.

Jake Fields was 2-for-2 with two doubles, two walks and an RBI in the first game before going 3-for-4 with four runs, three RBIs and a home run in the second game.

Lucas Redd was 2-for-2 with two runs, two walks, two RBIs and a home run in the opener and 1-for-3 with two runs and three RBIS. Drew Carson was 2-for-3 with two runs and four RBIs in Game 2.

Jefferson (13-1, 10-0 in Region 8-AA) plays at 5 p.m. Tuesday at North Oconee.

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March 30, 2010

Sexton throttles Eagles yet again

JEFFERSON- Last year when Jefferson visited East Jackson, then-junior Jamie Sexton belted three home runs in a dominating victory for the Dragons, who are ranked No. 5 in Class AA.

This time around, he settled for one home run, a triple, and the victory as the starting pitcher in Jefferson's 10-4 win Tuesday.

"I guess I just have something on this field," Sexton said. "I've been struggling all year, and I've just been in the cage and working my butt off trying to get my swing back."

In addition to his 2-for-4 night at the plate, Sexton threw four solid innings on the mound, allowing three runs, but only two earned.

"He swung the bat good today and he's pitched, all year, good enough to keep us in ballgames, no matter who we're playing," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "That's all you can ask out of your starting pitchers if you're in the fourth or fifth inning and still in the game for the win."

With the victory, the Dragons (11-1, 8-0) have now won 11 games in a row after dropping the first game of the season to Oconee County. Despite the consistent wins, and sitting atop the region, Knight isn't happy with how his team is playing at the moment.

"We did enough to win," he said. "You win by six runs and you should be happy, but still you see a lot of things you got to do better and a lot of things you still have to work on."

The main focus for the Dragons is finishing games. After jumping out 4-0 in the first inning on back-to-back home runs by Jake Fields and Kyle Hardy, and adding two more runs in the second, Jefferson let East Jackson (3-8, 1-6) back into the contest on a three-run double by John Robinson in the third.

The Eagles would cut the lead to 6-4 before Jefferson tacked on two runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

"We started out with some intensity, but then we just kind of died off," Sexton said.

"Obviously you want to get ahead early, but when you get ahead you expect to finish that, too, and we're just not doing that right now," Knight said.

On the other side of the field, East Jackson is still in the infant stages of its program and wasn't too disappointed, especially after losing to Jefferson by 11 runs earlier this season.

"We fought and the kids never hung their heads, and it would have been easy to roll over against a team like Jefferson, in the first inning especially," East Jackson coach Josh Gandy said. "That's a step in the right direction for us."

Jefferson will look to keep its streak alive against Fannin County in a doubleheader Saturday.

Sexton thinks he has the solution for the Dragons to keep their focus and their winning ways.

"We need to keep working hard, we've got to keep it up," he said. "(Keep) talking up our batters, talking up our pitcher, and just keep (our heads) in games."

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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March 26, 2010

Jefferson Sweeps Dawson County 

Senior Jake Fields pounded a monster game-winning home run to complete Jefferson's double-dip sweep of visiting Dawson County on Friday night, giving the Dragons a 7-6 victory for their 10th straight win and keeping them perfect in Region 8-AA.

Oh, and in the first game of that doubleheader? All Fields did was pitch a complete-game shutout and hit another homer.

"He had a great night - What can you say?" Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "Every time out he does stuff like that for us. He's a great ballplayer."

Pitchers have been throwing around Fields lately, and Dawson County's hurlers were no different for most of the night Friday.

But when he got a chance, well, he got the chance.

His winning shot in Game 2 came in the leadoff spot after the Tigers had rallied back to tie the game in the top of the seventh.

The ball was a no-doubter to left-center field. A few teammates said they thought it went over the lights.

"I am so thankful I got to get good wood on the ball, got to swing and hit the ball well," Fields said while signing autographs for young fans. "I'm just glad I get pitched to every now and then."

After Dawson County got two runs on the board in the top of the second inning with back-to-back RBI singles, the Dragons countered with one of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Eight Dragons went to the plate in the four-run third inning.

The first three Jefferson batters reached base (including an intentional walk to Fields, now catching) and Hardy drove two in with a double roped to right field.

Sexton would plate another pair when Dawson County right fielder Cody Marshall couldn't corral a line drive, making it 5-4.

Starting pitcher Kyle Hardy added a little insurance with a solo blast in the fifth.

After Connor Phillips went 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief of Hardy, the Tigers knocked Sexton for three straight hits to tie the game and set up Fields' heroics.

"We love good ballgames, close ballgames," Fields said. "And that was definitely one of them there. We're so excited."

Fields did it all for Jefferson in its 6-0 win in Game 1.

On the mound he went seven innings for a complete-game, 102-pitch shutout, scattering five Dawson County hits and striking out three.

He also came up big at the plate.

Fields added a two-run homer to center in the fifth and scored three runs in the victory.

"A lot of folks aren't pitching to him, and I don't blame them," Knight said. "You see why tonight. I wouldn't either. If I was on the other side I wouldn't pitch to him."

The Dragons dropped their season opener to Class AAA Oconee County, but have rattled off 10 straight wins since. Now 7-0 in the region, Jefferson next plays at East Jackson Tuesday.

Jefferson will look to continue its hot streak, and Fields will too.

Which begs the question - which feels better? Dominating on the mound, or sending his team off victors in the final at-bat of the game?

"I'd have to say a walk-off home run," Fields said, laughing. "It keeps you excited. But the shutout was nice."

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, March 27, 2010  ______________________________________________________________________________________________

March 23, 2010 - Tuesday

Dragons burn Oglethorpe Co.

The Dragons (8-1, 5-0) had eight hits and were led by Kyle Hardy, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. He was paced by Connor Phillips, who had two hits and two RBIs. Kyle Hardy pitched two innings in relief, giving up one hit and striking out five.

Oglethorpe County (7-5, 1-5), which has lost three in a row and five of its last six, was led by Cliff Neal, who had one hit and one RBI, and Travis Hill, who also had one hit and one RBI.

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March 20, 2010

JEFFERSON WINS TWO: At Blairsville, the Dragons had a couple of close calls against Union County, winning 3-2 in the opener and coming from behind to win 7-6 in the nightcap.

Jake Fields (4-0) came on in relief of Connor Phillips in the second game and earned the victory, striking out seven in three innings. Jason Demos led Jefferson at the plate with two hits and four RBIs, including the game-winner in the seventh inning. Kyle Hardy contributed a double and an RBI and Jamie Sexton had a double and two RBIs.

In the first game, Sexton earned the victory to improve to 2-1, and Fields and Lucas Redd both hit home runs. Fields was intentionally walked five times in the two games.

Jefferson (7-1, 4-0 in Region 8-AA) will play at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Oglethorpe County.

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 JEFFERSON 10, WALNUT GROVE 3: At Walnut Grove, the Dragons had 11 hits and Jake Fields pitched six strong innings, allowing one run and four hits and striking out five. Fields also helped his own cause with a home run.

Jefferson was led offensively by Kyle Hardy, who had two hits (including a home run) and three RBIs. He was paced by Jason Demos (two hits) and Lucas Redd (two hits, one RBI). The Dragons record improves to 6 - 1.

Tuesday March 16, 2010 

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JEFFERSON - Jefferson pitcher Jake Fields kept Commerce hitters off balance with a combination of split-finger fastballs and curveballs, striking out seven and allowing two hits in 51/3 innings as the Dragons defeated the Tigers 4-0 Saturday afternoon.

"I don't think Jake had his best stuff today. He got behind in counts, but he's such a competitor and came back and made some big pitches," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said.

Fields agreed with his coach's assessment.

"I didn't feel my best, but I knew I had to work through it. My curveball was breaking decent and I hit my spots. I was really blessed," he said.

Fields is 2-0 with 16 strikeouts and two earned runs in 101/3 innings on the mound this season.

The Tigers had one base runner in the first three innings as right fielder Josh Streetman drew a walk before being thrown out by catcher Jared Kimmel trying to steal second base.

Carl Allen had the Tigers' first hit of the game, an infield single in the fourth. Twice Commerce had runners at second and third with two outs, but failed to score each time as Streetman struck out swinging in the fourth and catcher Josh Swistak struck out looking in the sixth.

For the Tigers, Allen was nearly as strong as Fields, striking out 10 Dragons in five innings, but he received no run support and was let down by his defense with two fielding errors.

Allen was also tagged with the loss in Commerce's opener against Banks County, allowing six unearned runs in two innings.

"(Allen's) now 0-3, but hadn't given up an earned run until today. He's pitched fine," Commerce coach Steve Cottrell said. "Two pitchers went out there and did what they're supposed to do. We didn't make the plays. We panicked when the ball was put in play. They didn't and that was the difference."

Knight was impressed with Allen's effort.

"He kept us off stride with his slider early in counts. But even when you face good pitching you've got to put the ball in play and make the other team make plays. That's what we didn't do today," Knight said.

The Dragons' earned run came in the fourth inning as Jason Demos drove in Jamie Sexton with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Jefferson added two more in the fifth as center fielder Chase Barnett let a Kyle Hardy single roll between his legs to score Kimmel and Fields.

After Fields allowed a double to Barnett with one out in the sixth inning, Hardy pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning, striking out two Tiger hitters.

Jefferson added one more insurance run in the sixth off Swistak as Lucas Redd scored on an error by left fielder Colton Davis with two outs.

Kimmel retired the final three Tiger hitters in the bottom of the seventh as the Dragons improved to 3-1. Commerce fell to 0-4.

"I set the schedule up to play teams that are going to be better than most of what we see in our region," Cottrell said. "We're just young and immature, swinging at first-pitch curveballs. Things like that go a long way. We've got some kids playing that are not ready for the pressure. We have to keep getting after it. We're going to get better, but the only way to do that is play good teams."  

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Oconee jumps on Dragons early . . .

JEFFERSON - Nothing was going to throw Buck Gattie off Wednesday.

Temperatures threatening to dip into the 30s, a long lightning delay and a consistently tight strike zone all did their best, but the Oconee County southpaw was able to pitch the Warriors to a 6-1 win over Jefferson.

"It was freezing cold, especially when the lights cut out," Gattie said. "I didn't know what to do. But I just got warmer as the game went on."

The junior went five innings, allowing just two hits and one run and striking out seven - but not without complications.

Jefferson starter Jamie Sexton struggled to find the strike zone early, and the Warriors jumped on him, scoring two runs in the first and three more in the second.

Gattie was three batters into his second inning of work and had walked his only two batters of the game when the lights went out.

Literally.

With dusk approaching quickly, the spotlights on the right side of Memorial Stadium wouldn't come on. A 30-minute delay ensued while players from both squads just tried to stay warm.

"We just had those things fixed, and we turned them on and half of them don't work," Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. "I don't know what it was. I guess the lights were cold, too."

Play resumed, and the Dragons scored their only run on a Corey Wilkins sacrifice fly.

Oconee County would only score one more run in the game, but Gattie got even better as the contest went on, giving up just one hit and striking out four in his final three innings of work.

"We jumped on them in the first couple innings, and the lights went out, and we got cold because we got cold," Oconee County coach Stan Fricks said, laughing. "But (Gattie) got better as the game went on. When we took him out he had really found his groove. That doesn't happen a lot."

In relief of Sexton, senior Connor Phillips went 22/3 innings for Jefferson, allowing just one hit and a run.

Senior Avery Robinson closed the game out for the Warriors, giving up a pair of hits in two scoreless innings. It was Gattie, though, that did the lion's share of the work.

"He threw the ball good," Knight said of Gattie. "He kept us off track with the breaking ball the first pitch. We hadn't seen a lot of breaking pitches, much less the first pitch of the at-bat. He got us behind and it gets us in the hole."

Sophomore second baseman Davis Aiken led the offensive charge for Oconee County, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

First baseman Taylor Coiner also drove in two runs.

After besting Clarke Central on Tuesday, Oconee County is 2-0 on the young season and hosts Carrollton on Saturday. Wednesday's game was the season opener for Jefferson, which plays today at Madison County.

Wednesday's struggles or successes notwithstanding, both coaches know there's a long way to go before season's end.

"We're a lot better than we were last week," Fricks said. "And some things we didn't do well in the scrimmage we worked on. We're getting better. This is a young team, so we've still got a lot to get better at. This is the youngest team we've ever had."

Added Knight: "It's typical February weather, but not baseball weather at all. It's February, the first ballgame. We saw some things we liked, some things we didn't like. But again, it's not where you are now, it's where you end up."