FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — First-year Jefferson baseball coach Kyle Hardy felt his team could be an offensive force. Over the past eight games, they are proving him right.
The Dragons pounded out 10 hits in taking a 6-0 win over Flowery Branch on Wednesday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex. It was the first of back-to-back meetings in Region 8-5A play, as they will close out their series on Thursday in Jefferson.
The win was the eighth straight for Jefferson (11-3, 3-0 Region 8-5A), and they have scored 64 runs (8.0 runs/game) of their 94 on the season in that span. It also moved the Class 5A 10th-ranked Dragons into sole possession of first, with No. 5 Loganville (8-5, 2-0 Region 8-5A) taking the week off from region play.
“I think we’ve been playing well the last couple of weeks,” Hardy said. “Pitching is always ahead of hitting early, and over the last seven or eight games, we’ve started figuring out some timing at the plate.”
The Dragons jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first despite just one hit. They took advantage of four Branch errors, including a pair of errant pickoff attempts, as well as a sacrifice fly.
“Small ball and taking advantage of what the other team is giving us is something we’ve been preaching,” Hardy said. “It’s tools in our toolbox. We just try to create chaos on offense.”
The big first inning was more than enough for Jefferson starter Eston Simpson. The sophomore right-hander went 5 2/3 innings scattering five hits and worked out of jams in the fourth and the fifth as the defense turned double plays. He struck out five and gave way to left-hander Brennan Carter, who retired all four batters he faced over the final 1 1/3 innings.
The Falcons (8-7, 1-2 Region 8-5A) stranded eight runners through the first five innings as they could not get the big hit when it counted.
“Those double plays were huge,” Hardy said. “They had runners in scoring position in both innings, so it could have been a different game if we don’t make those plays.”
After the rough first inning, Falcons starter Riley Mitchell settled down. The senior eventually went five innings allowing seven hits with none of the five runs being earned. He struck out three and walked just two.
Max Wagner and Chase Hammock pitched the final two innings for Branch, allowing just one unearned run while fanning five combined.
Senior Mason Compton had three of the Falcons' five hits. Luke Stone and Antonio De La Torre had one hit each for Flowery Branch.
Bowman Horn had three hits, and Riley Rainey had two hits to pace Jefferson at the plate. Roger Hulsey, Jase Peoples, Brett Kelley, Aiden Dumas, and JoJo Martin all had one hit each for the Dragons.