Jasper, Ga. — After defeating the Raiders on Tuesday 13-1, the Pickens Dragons hosted Southeast Whitfield at Dunn Field for Games 2 and 3 of the series on Friday, April 8. After a tough stretch that included a 4-game loss, the Dragons looked to sweep the Raiders and keep pace near the top of the 7-AAAA standings. Using a timely pitch in Game 2 and hot bats in Game 3, the Dragons indeed picked up the sweep.
Trey Payne started for the Dragons in Game 2 of the series. After giving up a solo 1-out home run, Payne settled in and sent him to the bottom of the first. At the end of the first, Trace Ledbetter and Anthony Antinozzi both reached on 1 base on walks. Harlan Will then reached on an error, allowing Ledbetter and Antinozzi to score. Trey Payne then laced a double into the outfield to put the runners up 2nd and 3rd. The Raiders managed to force two straight outs to exit the inning. Moving on to second, Pickens led Southeast Whitfield, 2-1.
In the top of the second, Payne worked around a pair of steps as he collected his first two strikeouts of the game to send us down the frame. Late in the second, Evan Giddens reached with a 1-out single and Ledbetter reached with a 2-out walk. They would, however, be left stranded as the Raiders again forced a steal to end the inning and hold the Dragons 2-1 until the third.
In the top of the third, Southeast Whitfield regained the lead using two hits and two walks to tackle 2 runs to make it 3-2 Raiders. Late in the third, Pickens went down the order. Leading the fourth, the Raiders now led the Dragons, 3-2.
Tate Hales came on as a relief from Trey Payne in the top of the fourth and Hales had a phenomenal outing. Hales, kept the Raiders bats quiet at the top of the fourth to send it to the bottom of the frame. Hales then reached on a simple 1-out. Tyler Payne then hit a 2-out single. The Raiders managed to get the runner home to end the inning and send him to the fifth with Southeast Whitfield still leading, 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, Hales again held the Raiders scoreless as his impressive outing continued. In the bottom of the fifth, Antinozzi hit a 1-out single. Will, then reached after drawing a base on walks to put the runners in 1st and 2nd with still 1 out. After the runners moved to 2nd and 3rd, Trey Payne drove Antinozzi with a grounder to second baseman. After a 2-out walk drawn by Cade Sutton, the Dragons had runners on 1st and 3rd. The Raiders were able to get out of the inning having just given up the 1 point. In the sixth, Pickens and Southeast Whitfield were tied at 3.
Going into the top of the sixth, Hales needed just 5 pitches to set the Raiders up in order and send him to the bottom of the inning. In the bottom frame, Hales, reached with his second hit of the game. Colby Brooks, running for Hales, stole 2nd to get into scoring position. Sam Hammontree, who came on top of the inning replacing Ledbetter, led Brooks with an RBI single to give the Dragons a 4-3 lead in the seventh.
JP Nunn came in as relief from Hales to try and shut it down. The Raiders made it interesting by drawing three consecutive walks to load the bases. Nunn, then forced a grounder on shortstop Giddens who threw home for strength. Nunn then had back-to-back strikeouts to close out the game and give the Dragons the 4-3 win.
After winning Game 2 and claiming the series, the Dragons looked to secure the three-game sweep against the Whitfield Southeast Raiders. Leading the 1st, Dragons starter James Tilley needed 11 pitches to put the Raiders in order. Late in the first, Pickens hit early as Harlan Will started with a walk, his courtesy runner Tee Knight, stole 2nd, reached 3rd on wild pitch, then ended up scoring on that same wild pitch . Anthony Antinozzi, who was pulling at the start, came 2nd during the madness. Tyler Payne then led Antinozzi with a 1-out brace to put the Dragons at 2-0. Cade Sutton, followed that RBI double with his own RBI double to score Payne to make it 3-0 Pickens in the second.
In the top of the second, Tilley continued his stellar performance as he needed 10 shots to get out of the first half of the second. At the end of the second, the bats of the Dragons came to life. Pickens, beaten and tackled 7 points to extend his lead over the Raiders to 10-0 in the third.
In the top of the third, Tilley hit the team to bring his total to 4 on the night. Heading down the frame, the Dragons still led Southeast Whitfield, 10-0. Late in the third, Antinozzi started with a step forward. Trey Payne led Antinozzi with an RBI single to make it 11-0. Sutton drove Payne past a grounder to third baseman to make it 12-0. Tilley, reached on a step, and Sam Hammontree reached on an error. A Colby Brooks single led Tilley and Hammontree to make it 14-0. Evan Giddens, then reached on a walk. Will then threw one into shallow left field to score Brooks and make it 15-0. With the run rule in place, the Dragons won Game 3, 15-0, and won the Southeast Whitfield sweep.
7-AAAA Baseball Ranking:
Cedartown: 16-7 (10-2)
Legacy: 15-9 (8-4)
Picks: 14-9 (9-6)
Central-Carroll: 15-8 (7-5)
North West Whitfield: 13-10 (7-5)
Ridgeland: 7-12 (3-9)
Southeast Whitfield: 3-23 (1-14)
The Dragons will be out of the region next week as they play four games with three different teams. First, a home-and-home series with the Sonoraville Phoenix. The first game of the series will take place in Sonoraville on Monday, April 11. The first pitch is set for 5:55 p.m.