Longhorns too much for Warriors

By Chad Booth

   Longhorn spirits were high before squaring off against Happy Valley on Monday. Although they sang about "Friends in Low Places" during warm-ups, the 'Horns played more like they had friends in high places in the 13-3 win.
   "This bunch keeps their heads up and they never really get down on themselves," said Johnson County coach Pete Pavusek.
   Happy Valley struck first in the game, scoring three runs in the first inning off just three hits, which included a two-run homer by catcher Cody Cannon.
   Johnson County had a chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the first. After closing the lead to within one run, the Longhorns had the bases loaded but were unable to capitalize and left three men stranded.
   The game became a defensive battle in the second with each pitcher getting out of the inning after facing only four batters.
   The hitting slump continued into the third inning, where Happy Valley was shut out for the second time. Johnson County was able to muster a double but was unable to move the runner any further.
   In the bottom of the fourth Johnson County caught fire. The Longhorns, still down by one at the start of the inning, dropped in four singles and one double to come stampeding back and take the lead 8-3.
   Happy Valley brought in Forest Holt to relieve Michael Holmes after only 3-1/3 innings. Holt struck out the next two Longhorns batters and escaped the inning.
   "We've been getting good pitches and I just told them to keep swinging and we would be okay," said Pavusek.
   Johnson County was not out of the woods yet, though. In the top of the fifth, Happy Valley loaded up the bases on an error, a single and a walk.
   The Longhorns' worst fears were almost realized as Happy Valley's Tim Whaley connected, sending a ball to left field just shy of clearing the fence. The home crowd collectively held its breath as Jamie Paisley, Longhorn left fielder, sprinted back to make the catch.
   "I knew it was going to be close. I thought about the consequences, and so I just thought I was going to go for it," said senior outfielder Roberts. "I knew if I hit the fence it wouldn't hurt too bad."
   The long drive could have been the difference in the game since it would have brought Happy Valley back to within one run. The out, instead, was the end of what could have been a big inning.
   Johnson County picked up right where it left off in the bottom of the fifth with another round of hits. The hitters showed a great deal of discipline at the plate, being very selective and waiting for strikes.
   Two singles and one walk loaded the bases up for the Longhorns with no outs. Holt was able to record a strikeout for the first out of the inning but hit the next batter, putting the Longhorns in front 9-3 with the bases loaded and only one out.
   The next batter, Judd Townsend, was down 1-2 in the count when he connected to send the game-ending home run over the fence in right-center.
   "I was just glad I hit it," said Townsend. "I've been in a slump the last couple of games."
   With the Longhorns ahead by 10 at the end of the fifth, the game was called.
   Jon Arnold picked up the win and held Happy Valley to just four hits in five innings of work.
   "We just weren't hitting the ball," said Happy Valley coach Hyder. "Johnson County is a good team and they hit the ball well."