Johnson County derailed by Sullivan North, 9-2

By Matt Hill

   In the first, second, fourth and fifth innings, the Johnson County Longhorns battled toe-to-toe with the second-seed in the District 1-AA Baseball Tournament.
   Two innings of taking advantage of opportunities allowed the Sullivan North Golden Raiders to gain control.
   The third and the sixth innings proved to be the dagger Saturday night as the Longhorns fell 9-2 and thus ended their season.
   North now moves on to face Volunteer on Monday.
   North's three-run third inning gave the Golden Raiders a 4-1 advantage, but the Longhorns refused to die.
   A walk by Joe Atwood and a single by Michael Reid put runners on first and second for Matt Peters in the top of the fourth. Peters delivered with an RBI single to make it a 4-2 contest.
   Longhorn pitcher Jon Arnold bounced back nicely in the fourth and fifth innings, but ran into some bad luck in the sixth.
   Two errors in a row allowed a North run to score to increase the Golden Raider advantage to 5-2. Then two doubles by North put four runners to the plate, and that was all she wrote.
   But for the most part, Arnold went toe-to-toe with ETSU signee Brandon Summey. Arnold allowed 10 hits compared to Summey's eight.
   The difference might have been four errors by the Longhorns.
   Johnson County assistant coach Eric Crabtree was proud of the way Arnold battled, and realizes he just didn't get many breaks.
   "He battled from the first pitch to the last pitch," Crabtree said. "He only gave up a couple of hard shots. Everything else they were just poking the bat out, getting the bat on the ball. Defense killed us. We had been playing pretty good defense the last couple of games, but we made two or three errors and it really changed the ball game. Take away the third inning and the sixth inning, and it's a totally different ball game."
   It's been a year where Johnson County just didn't get the breaks. Johnson County lost a lot of close conference games, and this one was a two-run contest until the sixth inning.
   In a way, Crabtree thought this game typified the Longhorns season.
   "We just never could get a bounce our way," he said. "If it was a close call, we just couldn't get one when it mattered. Close call for the other team, seems like they always got it. If it was a bad bounce, seems like we always got it. We just never could turn the corner. It seems like something was knocking us down every time we tried to get over the mountain."