DANDRIDGE — Jefferson County’s Garrett Owens hurled a four-hitter Monday afternoon as the Patriots spoiled the coaching debut of Morristown East’s Matt Ford with a 3-1 victory.
Owens needed just 83 pitches in the complete game outing. He walked only one and struck out four. He faced only nine batters in the last three innings.
Offensively, the Patriots scored a pair of unearned runs in the second and added an insurance marker in the bottom of the fifth.
Jefferson County had only six hits off East hurlers Layne Atkins, who worked the first four frames, and David Ellison. Two of those were infield singles and another was a bunt.
But the Patriots didn’t need a lot of offense with the way Owens pitched.
Jefferson County coach Zach Reese said, “Garrett was really good, outstanding. I’ve said all along he was our best guy, the one guy that is going to go out there and throw strikes and that was what he did.
“He kept his pitch count down because he was going out there and getting out of innings with 11 or 12 pitches. I never thought he would go seven innings this early but that’s what his pitch count allowed him to do.”
Reese said the complete game was really huge. “Now we have everybody else for tomorrow.”
The same two teams will battle again today at Sherwood Park at 5:30 p.m.
“We took advantage of our chances to score,” Reese said. “You know, we can do a lot of things when we get guys on base.”
He added, “We’re not a team that’s going to go out there and string together 8 or 9 hits. But we can bunt and we can run. We need to get people on base and try to punch them in some way.
“I’m really happy,” he closed. “Any conference win is a big win and this one was important.”
Atkins pitched well. Both runs he gave up were unearned as he allowed four hits, walked two and fanned four. Ellison gave up two hits and a run while walking one and striking out two.
Ford commented, “I thought we pitched well enough to win but we made a couple of mental mistakes defensively that really hurt us.
“We put ourselves in position where we were in the game until the final inning, but we’ve got to really improve at the plate. One run is typically not going to be enough to win high school ball games.”
The coach added, “But overall, I have to be proud of our effort considering the fact this was just the third time we’ve been able to play because two of our four scrimmages got rained out.”
East had the first scoring chance as Joey Johnson banged out a double with two out in the first. But Owens got the next man to line out to the shortstop.
Freshman Kyle Compton had a leadoff single for the ‘Canes in the second, but Owens retired three straight and the Patriots came to the plate and put two runs on the scoreboard.
Tanner Woods singled to lead off the frame and Reed Manley ran for him. Austin Edmonds sacrificed the runner to second, but he was thrown out trying to score on Casey Allen’s grounder to third.
A fly ball to right that should have ended the inning wound up not being caught, putting runners on second and third. Carsyn Brady walked despite a perfect 1-2 pitch from Atkins and the sacks were loaded.
Andrew Edmonds drew another base on balls to force in the first run, and the second scored as Tanner Atkins reached on an infield hit.
East got its only run in the top of the third. With one out, Jacob Gossett walked and Carson Shockley reached on an error.
The ball went into center field as the Patriots tried to pick Gossett off second and was picked up and thrown into the dugout while trying to make a play at third. That scored Gossett and put Shockley on third.
However, Owens got out of it as he got the next man on a pop to first and the final out on a grounder to third.
Jefferson County’s final run came off Ellison in the fifth. Matt Hughes had a leadoff walk, was sacrificed to second by Ryan Potts and scored on Austin Edmonds’ two-out single.
Atkins, Hughes, Woods, Austin Edmonds, Rogers and Andrew Edmonds had hits for the winners.
East’s Johnson was the only player in the game with two hits. Compton and Atkins had the other East safeties.