'Horns rally to beat 'Dogs in eight innings

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Eric Crabtree must have said the magic words.
   The Johnson County Longhorns rallied back from an 8-3 deficit after their assistant coach gave a motivational speech to upend the Hampton Bulldogs 12-10 in eight innings at Hampton's baseball field.
   The Longhorns gave up six runs in the bottom of the first after holding an early 3-0 lead, then allowed two more to come in during the third.
   Crabtree then spoke to the team during an inning change, and the Longhorns responded.
   "There are times when I get kind of upset, and I think it takes somebody else here and there to get them fired up and get them going," Johnson County head coach Pete Pavusek said. "They hear it from me over and over again, and a lot of times it doesn't sink in."
   One player that seemed to have listened was Michael Davis.
   The relief pitcher came into throw in the fourth with his team down five runs, and went on to shut the Bulldogs down in the next three innings.
   "He's doing a great job this year," Pavusek said. "He's been pitching well. He did well today. We're going to ice him down, and hope we can get some more work out of him later on down the road.
   The rest of the Longhorn squad helped Davis with the bats, as Johnson County scored four runs in the top of the sixth to tie the contest at 8-8.
   After the Longhorns added two runs in the seventh, Johnson County looked to be in control with a 10-8 edge going into the bottom of the seventh.
   Hampton thought otherwise.
   With runners on second and third, senior shortstop and late-innings pitcher Josh Moss drove in Michael McCall to make it a one-run contest.
   Later in the inning, Robby England was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two out to tie the game at 10-10.
   But Davis wasn't going to let his good outing go to waste, as he got Gene Sanchez to fly out to send the contest into extra innings.
   "I don't think they're going to quit," Hampton head coach Scotty Bunton said. "But we don't have that step on the net killer instinct. We've got somebody down, but we just can't step on them."
   After an Adam Leonard walk and a Jon Arnold single started the top of the eighth, Manuel Price came up with what proved to be the game-winning hit with a single of his own.
   The Longhorns added an insurance run to give Davis a 12-10 cushion going into the bottom of the eighth.
   "I've been struggling a lot," Price said. "My teammates have kept my confidence up a lot. I just got up there and swung, and it fell for me. I've been struggling a lot, and if it hadn't been for my teammates, I wouldn't be able to do anything. I have to give them full credit. They've continuously kept my spirit up and kept my confidence up through the whole season.
   "That was probably my first hit all year."
   Davis had little trouble closing it out. After a Dustin Crumley single, Davis retired the side to give Johnson County the come from behind victory.
   Davis did get tired late in the game, but wasn't going to be denied on this afternoon.
   "I got a little tired there in the seventh inning," Davis said. "But I found some extra strength.
   "I had no doubts. My team got me some runs there. We had a good lead, and I felt comfortable with it."
   While Bunton was disappointed with blowing the lead, he thought it would have been a non-issue had it not been for leaving so many people in scoring position.
   "What killed us is the same thing that's killed us in every game we've had close so far," Bunton said. "We have runners in scoring position over and over and over and can't get a hit. We fight like crazy to get them out there, work our heads off to get them out there, then we lay down and can't get them in."
   Crumley and Eric Swain topped the Bulldogs with three hits each. Michael Reid, Matt Peters and Arnold all had two hits to pace Johnson County.
   Davis was the winning pitcher for Johnson County.