0515JHSknightAUDListen to Jefferson coach Tommy Knight talk about splitting with Eagle's Landing Christian Wednesday night.
JEFFERSON — Jefferson pitcher Chris Beck didn’t let his team’s 11-5 loss in Game 1 against Eagle’s Landing Christian bother him.
Beck struck out 12 hitters and kept a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings in Game 2 to defeat the Chargers 9-2 and even the best-of-three Class A second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
“Any team like Eagle’s Landing is going to be a good team no matter what, so I was trying to hit my spots and not throwing anything too high,” Beck said. “I worked my curveball a lot and it really showed up tonight.”
The series will be decided at 5:30 p.m. today in Jefferson, with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinals against the Pacelli/Baconton Charter series winner.
The Dragons (21-5) look to avoid being eliminated in the playoffs by Eagle’s Landing (22-8) for two straight years after losing to the Chargers in three games last year in the state semifinals.
Jefferson coach Tommy Knight’s strategy for doing that is simple but effective.
“The only strategy is to score more runs than they do,” Knight said.
While scoring more runs than their opponent has been a typical outcome for the Dragons this season, they struggled to hit consistently against Game 1 pitcher Jake Davies, who finished the game with 14 strikeouts.
“He showed what kind of player he is tonight,” Eagle’s Landing coach Doug Campbell said. “You can’t say anything more about getting 14 strikeouts against a very good hitting team.”
The Dragons still managed to take an early lead in the first game off the first of Jed Gurley’s three home runs on the day.
“Jed swung the bat well all day,” Knight said. “He kept us in the first game.”
Tyler Hill added to the scoring in the inning with a home run that scored Jake Fields.
The Chargers tied the game over the next three innings off three solo home runs by Davies, Long and Carter. They then took their first lead of the day in a four-run fifth inning.
The Dragons scored for the last time in the bottom of the fifth off Gurley’s second home run of the game.
“We were patient at the plate,” Campbell said. “We played on a lot of emotion and when we started getting confidence it spread throughout the dugout.”
The Dragons didn’t let the loss get to them in the second game. After Blaine Skaggs was hit by a pitch, Gurley hit his third home run of the night in the third inning to give Jefferson a 2-0 lead.
“I don’t know how I was able to hit three tonight,” Gurley said. “I let them throw at me and the ball just carried.”
The Chargers scored in the fourth inning off two fielder’s choice plays.
Jefferson expanded their lead with a four-run fifth inning that included Field’s 16th home run of the season, putting him only two shy of the school home run record, and a sacrifice bunt by Chase Harris.
Fields earned another RBI off a single in the sixth inning to give the Dragons a 8-2 lead and Gurley sealed the win in the seventh with his own RBI single. Both hitters went 3-for-5 in Game 2.
Meanwhile, Eagle’s Landing remained hitless until the final inning, and Beck lost the no-hitter when Griswell doubled up the right field line.