Saturday, March 23, 2013
The North Augusta High School baseball team's week started out on the wrong foot, but by the end they had reversed their fortunes.
North Augusta (5-3, 2-1 Region 5-AAAA) fell earlier in the week against South Aiken, 4-3. Zach Jarvis took the loss for the Jackets, who ran into South Aiken's top pitcher, Taylor Widener.
"When he's on the mound he gives South Aiken a chance to beat anybody," North Augusta head coach Victor Radcliff said. "As a coach I was proud of our kids because we showed a lot of maturity to battle back and not give up. As a matter of fact we were ahead of them going into the bottom of the seventh, 3-2. Then we allowed some things to happen where they tied it up in the bottom of the seventh and we ended up going to the ninth inning before we lost the ball game. But I felt good about our team and that we put ourselves in a position to win."
Radcliff notes that the region is much more potent, and that his team has got to be prepared to play each time they step on the field. Aiken, who the team played on Friday, is a program that he notes as being on the upswing and gave the Jackets a stern test.
"Early in the game Aiken seemed to have a lot of fight and effort going on," Radcliff said. "They went ahead of us also, and it was a back-and-forth battle. We were down two runs at the end and Russell (Scaggs) came up with the big hit up the middle."
The hit that Scaggs got was a two RBI single up the middle that pushed the Jackets ahead 7-6, a score that would end up being the final. Scaggs went 3-for-4 in the game and totaled three RBI. Taylor Wright ended up getting the win for the Jackets.On Saturday the Jackets played Midland Valley, and they jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Like the previous matchups, the Mustangs worked their way back and went back-and-forth with the Jackets.
"We ended up winning it late ourselves, but yesterday was another close one," Radcliff said. According to Radcliff, Scaggs has been a player that has stepped up as a senior leader in recent games for the team. He also points to Ryan Lark, a junior catcher, as someone who he expects to continue contributing at a high level. JoJo Higgenbottom rounds out the list of players that Radcliff calls special attention to, along with the recent addition of Cody Turner.
Coming up the Jackets will travel Tuesday to Dutch Fork and Friday the team will host Lexington for two region tilts.
"In the past, when Dutch Fork was in our region, they were a fundamental team and their kids play hard," Radcliff said. "Our pitchers have to throw strikes and play sound defense behind them. Our hitters need to show some more patience at the plate, and if they do we have a chance to put runs on the board. One of the things that has been hurting us is the defense at times."Lexington was a highly ranked preseason team, and have a number of returning pitchers, according to Radcliff."
The Columbia teams will always be fundamentally sound, and you can't be like a charity and give them extra opportunities," he said. "If we go out and play like we're capable of playing, we'll give ourselves a chance. You don't win ball games on paper, you go out and take one game at a time and you play to the best of your ability and leave it on the field."