Posted: Tuesday, March 19th 2013 at 11:45pm
Baseball: Knights drop 8-AAAA opener
By Jeff Hart Staff
OAKWOOD -- After slow starts to the season, both Johnson and Walnut Grove were looking for a fresh start as they opened their Region 8-AAAA schedules at Johnson Field Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the young Knights, they are still looking for answers after taking a 12-1 loss in five innings.
In the Knights’ defense, they were missing one starter and three others played with fevers and sickness. Johnson coach Tony Wilson was having none of it, however.
“Yea, we had some guys limited but we won’t use that as an excuse,” he said. “Whoever is out there needs to step up. We’re just not very consistent right now.”
The Knights had just five hits to fall but had more than half-a-dozen balls smoked right at Walnut Grove defenders. Give them 50 feet in any direction and it may have been a different game.
“We made contact but couldn’t get many to drop for us,” Wilson said. “Some days are like that.”
Walnut Grove wasted little time in jumping on Johnson starter Asher Griffith. Five of the first seven batters got hits off Griffith, capped by a wind-aided grand slam from Drew Merritt for a 6-0 lead. The Warriors would add two unearned runs to push their lead to 8-0 before the Knights came to bat.
Johnson tried to chip away in the bottom of the first, which was a microcosm of things to come.
The Knights loaded the bases with one out on hits by Joel Munoz and Hunter Newman sandwiched around a Jordan Green walk. They could have had the bases loaded and a run in with no outs but a scorcher up the the middle by Griffith was snared by diving Warriors’ pitcher Andrew Robinson for an out. Munoz would score on a sacrifice fly from Jackson Fraser but then Newman was picked off first with two runners on to end the inning.
The offense never recovered.
“That kind of took our momentum away. You can’t have things like that happen when you’re trying to get back in a game,” Wilson said.
Johnson had four scorching line drive hits in the outfield tracked down by Warriors defenders with runners on base in the game
Walnut Grove threatened again in the second loading the bases again but Munoz got out of the jam striking out Bailey Smith to keep the score at 8-1.
The Warriors put the game out of reach in the third with four runs on five hits, capped by a two-run double from Merritt for a 12-1 lead.
Merritt was the main thorn in Johnson’s side with two hits, a walk, and six RBI. Nathan Blanchard had a perfect game going 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored in the lead-off spot for the Warriors (4-7, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA).
Hunter Rabb and Bryce Shupe also had two hits and combined for three RBI for Walnut Grove.
Southpaw Robinson settled down after the first inning allowing just five hits in four innings to get the win for the Warriors.
Griffith took the loss for Johnson (3-9, 0-1) lasting just one-third of an inning and allowing six runs. Munoz went 2 ⅔ innings allowing four earned runs on seven hits and fanning three.
Lance Chancey pitched the final two innings for the Knights striking out one and allowing no hits.
Michael McGraw had two hits for Johnson. Munoz, Griffith, and Hunter had one hit each for the Knights.
The two teams will tangle again on Wednesday at Walnut Grove in the second game of the home-and-home series.
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