By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County High School (MCHS) varsity Diamond Dogs began their region schedule on Monday, March 24, with a 7-0 shutout over the East Jackson Eagles. Last week, the Dogs faced the Aquinas Fightin’ Irish twice, losing the first game 0-3 at home but winning the away match 8-7. The varsity Dogs’ overall season record now stands at 9-4.

Morgan County pulled out a dominating win over East Jackson to begin their run in the region standings. The Dogs earned a single run in the first inning and extended their lead to 3-0 by the second inning.

East Jackson was not able to mount a comeback, while Morgan County was able to tack on another two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. “We are continuing to work hard in practice to correct our weaknesses,” said MCHS Varsity Baseball Head Coach Brandon Patch about preparing for the region schedule to come. “I feel like we are competing hard throughout the entire game.

I like how our pitching is coming around at this point.” The Dogs played their last non-region games last week against Aquinas High School. The first of two games took place at Morgan County on March 19.

Morgan County was able to shut Aquinas down in the first three innings, with Clark Owen striking out eight Aquinas batters in the first three frames.

Morgan County was able to achieve two hits and get five runners on base but couldn’t capitalize early. In the fourth inning, Aquinas was able to earn three runs, which were enough to hand them the lead that they would carry through the game’s conclusion. After the fourth the teams again held each other at stalemate, with the Irish winning the game 3-0. Owen pitched the first four and one-third innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing only five hits and one earned run. Max Wordsworth closed out the game, allowing two hits and two walks, while striking out two batters. Morgan County and Aquinas matched up for the second time on March 20, but the Dogs were able to take the win over Aquinas 8-7.

After leaving the first inning 0-0, Morgan County put up two runs in the second inning. The RBIs by Drew Hale and Ross Kirkpatrick allowed Morgan County to lead 2-0 until the bottom of the third inning, when Aquinas’ offense took hold, pushing six runs over the plate for a 6-2 lead.

Morgan County stayed behind Aquinas until the top of the sixth, when a three-run homer by Jon Milledge Wells put the Dogs within striking distance of a tie. An RBI single by Clark Owen gave the Dogs the run they needed to tie the game 6-6 in the top of the sixth inning.

With momentum on their side, Morgan County shut down Aquinas in the bottom of the sixth before taking their first lead since the third inning with an RBI double by Sam Couch in the top of the seventh to make the score 7-6. Aquinas fought back in the seventh to earn a single run, sending the game into extra innings with a 7-7 tie. Austin Rapier, the Dogs’ first batter of the eighth inning, reached base on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

With the game on the line, Ryan Burden laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Rapier to third, and a sacrifice fly by Owen brought Rapier home for the lead. Not wanting to give up the lead, the Dogs’ defense shored up against Aquinas, setting down three batters in a row to secure an 8-7 victory.

“We certainly showed a good amount of toughness to comeback and beat a quality Aquinas team on the road,” said Coach Patch. “I was encouraged by the way we fought. Furthermore it was a true team effort.

Everyone contributed to our success that day.” The Dogs played their second game against East Jackson on Wednesday in Commerce, and they will play their second region opponent, Jackson County, this Friday on the road with the game beginning at 5:55 p.m. Next Monday, the Dogs play Jackson County again, this time at home, at 5:55 p.m. as well. Wednesday, April 2, Morgan County will play Oconee County here for the first of two games at 5:55 p.m.