By JOSH FRYE
J.U. Blacksher’s Bulldogs improved their season record to 5-2 after shutting out Pleasant Home 15-0 on March 2 and chomping down on Excel, 20-8 on March 6.
The Bulldogs also managed to post their second loss of the season, a 5-1 setback to W.S. Neal on March 3.
Freshman Josh Burkett took the mound against Pleasant Home, striking out 10 batters in five innings. Burkett gave up only one hit on 81 pitches.
Tucker Spence scored four runs to lead the Bulldogs, while Josh Peavy, Peyton Wilkins, Michael Redditt and Talan Daughtry each scored twice, and Josh Burkett, Eli Smith and Damon Rolin each crossed the plate once.
“The guys did a great job at adding runs,” JUB head coach Justin Mixon said. “Late in the game we were able to put together a really productive night at the plate and in the field.”
During the only loss of the week, against Neal, Wilkins pitched six innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs (four earned), while striking out one.
Spence gained the only run for the Bulldogs, scoring on an inside-the-park homerun.
“We played great defense until late in the game,” Mixon said. “You have to give credit to their pitcher for keeping us down offensively. I was extremely proud of the effort that Wilkins gave on the mound. We have to do a better job on preparing the guys for late-game pressure.”
By the end of last week, JUB brushed the loss off and dominated rival Excel.
Wilkins gained the win on the mound for the Bulldogs, facing 16 batters and striking out three while giving up one run on two hits and four walks.
Burkett relieved Wilkins on the mound but struggled. He faced 13 batters in just over an inning, striking out three. He gave up seven runs on four hits.
Spence and Redditt led the Blacksher scoring frenzy, scoring four runs each.
Rolin added three runs to the scoring tally, while Peavy, Daughtry and Smith each added two, and Jayce Sells, Wilkins and Burkett added one each.
“Despite the final score against Excel, we came out sloppy,” Mixon said. “We didn’t play very well during the first two innings, but our guys stayed positive and continued to battle. We were able to take advantage of a few mistakes and added pressure.”
Mixon added that the Bulldogs produced great energy and effort and noted that when his players don’t press, they play pretty well.
“The guys understand that we still have a lot more room for improvement, but if we can build on what we are doing well, then we have a great shot at the area championship,” the JUB coach said. “Elberta and Cottage Hill are going to be tough opponents, and we have to find ways to complete those games.”
The Bulldogs will travel to face St. Michael Catholic this Friday, March 13.