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OAKWOOD — A lot has changed in three weeks for Lumpkin County High’s baseball team.
The Indians were in a position where they could have mailed it in after a 1-10 start to the season following a loss to White County on March 26. But after a 7-4 win against Johnson on Wednesday, their sixth victory in the past seven games, Lumpkin County (7-12, 6-6 Region 7-AAA) is still in the conversation for the state playoffs.
“Our players have started to learn what it takes to win,” Lumpkin County coach Dustin Allen said. “We’re not a team that has five Division I players, but we’re learning that if we do the fundamentals correctly, then we can win varsity baseball games.”
It will still take some work for the Indians to get to the playoffs: They are two games behind White County in the subregion for the second playoff spot. Despite the possibilities, Allen doesn’t want to get consumed with playing just for a spot in the postseason.
Lumpkin County still has games against playoff hopefuls Creekview, White County and Lambert remaining to make up ground.
“We still have a lot of games left,” Allen said. “We’re just focused on getting better from game to game.”
Against Johnson (12-9, 8-5), the Indians tallied six stolen bases, which led to a pair of first-inning runs and helped put a runner in scoring position almost every inning.
Lumpkin County also didn’t hesitate to try and sacrifice at the plate which was evident through the play of Chad Fulton (2-for-3, two runs scored), who put down a bunt single in the second that scored Avery Ross from third.
“If you do that and have the right approach at the plate, then you’ll be able to win games,” Allen said.
Leading 3-0 in the fourth inning, Austin Gooch got on base with an infield single and later advanced to third with a ground out. Pinch runner Ian McIntosh scored on a sacrifice fly for Lumpkin County.
Then in the seventh, Fulton and Will Anderson led off the inning with singles for the Indians. Both runners scored with a ground out from Randal Otis and a sacrifice fly by Chase Grizzle, respectively.
Fulton walked to start the game for Lumpkin County and moved to third with a pair of stolen bases before scoring on an RBI triple from Anderson. Whitehead added a double during the inning.
Meanwhile, Grizzle (3-3) did more than enough to put Lumpkin County in a position to win. He faced the minimum during the first three innings and needed only 27 pitches to get through the first three frames. He also got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fourth.
“We waited too late to get started tonight,” Johnson coach Tony Wilson said. “When you dig a hole like that, it’s tough to fight back.”
Grizzle allowed only two earned runs over six innings, despite not recording any strikeouts.
“Chase has still yet to reach his potential,” Allen said. “He uses his change up to set up his fastball, and does a good job throwing all three of his pitches for strikes.”
Taylor Whitmire drove in the Knights’ first run with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Then in the sixth inning, the Knights scored a pair of runs on the back of singles from Chris White, Trae Wilson and Logan Pethel. Blake Stacey added an RBI single for Johnson in the seventh.
Lumpkin County plays host to Creekview at 5:55 p.m. Friday in Dahlonega. Johnson plays host to Lambert at 5:55 p.m. Monday in Oakwood.