By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County High School varsity baseball team finished their 2014 season last week, after losing to North Oconee High School 8-11 but winning their final game against the Franklin County Lions 5-1. The Diamond Dogs finished out their season with a 13-13 record overall and were 5-9 in the region. “I felt like we had our moments where we played really well against some good competition, said MCHS Varsity Baseball Head Coach Brandon Patch.

“Unfortunately, we had three one-run losses in region, as well as a couple other games that were within two or three runs, which kept us out of the playoffs.” Morgan County won its final game of the 2014 season 5-1 against the Franklin County Lions at home last Wednesday, April 23. Franklin County scored its sole run of the game in the top of the first inning with a solo home run.

During the game, only three Franklin County batters would reach base on a hit. The Dogs scored the majority of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, when they were able to get ahead of the Lions 4-1. Max Wadsworth earned the first Morgan County RBI of the game, after Drew Hale and Jon Milledge Wells reached base on consecutive singles. Eli Zimmerman had the next RBI for the Dogs, scoring Wells on a single. Ryan Burden scored on an error after reaching on a single, and Cody Harper had the final RBI of the inning.

Morgan County wouldn’t score again until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Sawyer Hill reached home on a RBI single by Luke Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s RBI brought the score to 5-1, which would hold steady until the end of the game. Clark Owen pitched the complete game for Morgan County, only allowing one run on three total hits during seven innings. Owen also struck out eight Franklin County batters while allowing no base on balls for the win.

The Dogs took on the North Oconee Titans at North Oconee High School for their penultimate game of the season last Tuesday, April 22. Morgan County came out strong, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning.

Cody Harper, the Dogs’ leadoff batter, got on base with a single to start off the game, and Harper was advanced to second base during the next at bat by a single from Maclane Zant. Jon Milledge Wells earned the first RBI of the game with a walk after Drew Hale loaded the bases with a single. Max Wadsworth pushed the second run across with a sacrifice fly, and both Luke Zimmerman and Eli Zimmerman struck RBI singles to put the Dogs ahead 4-0 going into the bottom of the first inning. The Titans responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first, but the Dogs were able to add an insurance run in the top of the second with an RBI from Drew Hale to make the score 5-3.

Morgan County was able to sit the Titans down in order on the bottom of the second, but they returned in the third inning to score four runs and overtake the Dogs 7-5. The Dogs could not respond in the fourth inning, while the Titans pushed another run through to go ahead 8-5, but Morgan County tied the score 8-8 in the top of the fifth with RBIs from Sawyer Hill and Maclane Zant.

North Oconee broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth with two runs, securing a lead that they would keep through the remainder of the game. The final North Oconee run came in the sixth inning, which put the Dogs behind 8-11. Morgan County was not able to come back from the deficit in the remaining innings. Drew Hale pitched the first two and two-thirds innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits while striking out two batters and walking two others.

Brantley Frost stood at the mound for the Dogs during two innings. Three runs were earned against Frost on three hits. The final one and one-third innings were handled by Luke Zimmerman, who allowed no earned runs and no hits.

Coach Patch expressed pride in the team’s performance, despite the facing several losses during the latter part of the season. “Despite our two-week stretch where we struggled, I thought our kids stuck together and continued to work hard,” said Coach Patch about the season as a whole. “I give a ton of credit to our seniors, as they showed maturity and continued to lead in a positive way during the adversity. They really showed me how much character they have, and they will be missed.” “We look forward to getting back to work at the end of May as we begin our summer program.”