Longhorns roll past Bulldogs

By Matt Hill

   MOUNTAIN CITY -- The town of Mountain City doesn't have a Denny's Restaurant, but that didn't stop a couple of Johnson County Longhorn hitters from cooking up some "Grand Slams" on Thursday afternoon.
   Adam Leonard and Jeff Lewis both hit grand slams in a 17-run third inning, as the Longhorns defeated the Hampton Bulldogs 22-3 at Longhorn Field.
   Overall, both Leonard and Lewis hit two out of the park, and Jon Arnold also hit a home run to give the Longhorns a total of five homers on the afternoon.
   "We just had the right pitching, and we were hitting the ball," Leonard said. "It was a good day. Everybody was just hitting the ball. Everything was clicking."
   Johnson County head coach Pete Pavusek had a lot to smile about after the contest.
   "I'm pleased with our hitting," Pavusek said. "We've worked hard on our hitting. I think we've got the hitters. I told the boys I was going to buy them all brand new bats, and I'm wanting them to use them and they have so far. We're hitting the ball quite well."
   The two grand slams hit by the Longhorns in the third inning simply amazed Hampton head coach Scotty Bunton.
   "I don't think I've ever seen that," Bunton said. "I've never been in a game where that had happened."
   The Longhorns started well with Lewis and Leonard both hitting two-run homers their first-time up. Throw in an RBI single by Adam Johnson, and the Longhorns were up 5-0 after the first inning.
   "I like to come out, and put the runs on the board," Pavusek said. "We did some waiting around the last couple of games, and I don't like to do that. I like to jump out on them quick."
   Hampton did rally back in the top of the second. RBI singles by Dustin Crumley and Josh Moss brought the Bulldogs back to within 5-2 going into the bottom of the second.
   Things were quiet for a little while, but then the Longhorns exploded in the bottom of the third. Twenty-one batters came to the plate for the Longhorns, and the Longhorns had already scored seven runs when the bases were loaded for Leonard.
   Leonard's grand slam made the score 16-2, but the Longhorns weren't finished.
   The very next batter was Arnold, and he followed that up with a solo shot to left.
   Johnson County continued the rally, and scored another run when Michael Reid singled in Matt McQueen to make it an 18-2 Longhorn lead.
   A walk by Johnson loaded the bases for Lewis, who hit the Longhorns second grand slam of the inning.
   "Once a team gets together, we always have good innings like that," Lewis said. "You can expect a whole lot more the rest of the season from the Johnson County Longhorns."
   Three Hampton pitchers were used in the inning, and Bunton believes the lack of depth on the Bulldog pitching staff showed in Thursday's contest.
   "Our pitching is a little weak," Bunton said. "Everybody's sore armed. I don't know what we're going to do. Struggle through I guess."
   Leonard and Lewis each had three hits for Johnson County. Johnson had two hits to add to the Longhorn attack.
   Brad Hodge and Moss were bright spots for Hampton, as they finished the afternoon with two hits each.
   The Longhorns did receive a solid pitching performance from Junior Paisley. He pitched all five innings, allowing eight hits and three runs.
   "A real good outing from Paisley," Pavusek said. "He's been down on his luck the last couple of games. We've bailed him out. We had a couple of mistakes against Cloudland, and we bailed him out. We had a couple of mistakes against Ashe County, and we bailed him out again. He's going to start trusting us one of these days."
   The Bulldogs fall to 2-3 on the year, and 0-2 in the Watauga Conference with the loss. Johnson County improves to 1-0 in the Watauga, and is now 3-0 overall.
   Pavusek hopes the Longhorns sent a message with this victory.
   "I don't think it was real fair that we were picked seventh in the conference," Pavusek said. "But that's alright. Nobody's expecting anything from us. That's fine with me. Maybe we'll sneak up on a few teams."