It only took five games in the Region 8-A schedule for the Jefferson High baseball team to become the clear front runners.
Class A’s seventh-ranked Dragons (6-3, 5-0 Region 8-A) became the only undefeated team remaining in the region by knocking off previously undefeated Lakeview Academy 10-3 Thursday night at Horace Jackson Field in Jefferson.
“If you can call a game this early in the season a big game, this one certainly was,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said.
It should come as no surprise that the Dragons are in the driver’s seat this season with the bulk of their state semifinal team from last season still around. That experience showed as Jefferson jumped to an early lead on the Lions (6-5, 4-1) and put the game away with six runs in the fourth inning.
“I feel like we’re the best team in the region, we just have to keep playing to our potential,” Dragons sophomore Lucas Redd said.
Redd finished the game 2-for-4 with a home run, single and a pair of RBIs. Lead-off hitter Blaine Skaggs was 3-for-4 with a run scored for the Dragons. Anthony Dowker had a pair of singles for Jefferson in the No. 2 spot behind Skaggs.
And the pitching from Dragons junior right hander Chris Beck was outstanding. Beck went the distance for the win finishing with 15 strikeouts and allowing only two walks. Beck set the tone for the win by setting down Lakeview Academy’s hitters in order over the first two innings.
The only point in the game that Beck struggled was in the fourth inning when he hit the Lions’ first two batters of the inning and then surrendered back-to-back doubles to Ralston Cash and Brett Armour. That helped Lakeview Academy narrow Jefferson’s lead to 4-3.
But Jefferson’s hard-throwing righty had no problem shaking off that bad inning as he set down eight of the next nine hitters he faced.
“The way Chris rebounded on the mound just shows his maturity as a pitcher,” Knight added.
Just as quickly as Lakeview Academy jumped back into the game, it all came unwound in Jefferson’s next at bat.
After two hits to lead off the fourth inning, Jefferson’s next three batters (Dowker, Beck and Jake Fields) all got on base with walks.
Jefferson didn’t waste the golden opportunity with the bases loaded. Tyler Hill and Redd both followed immediately with RBI singles. Later on a wild pitch, Hill scored from third and Redd came all the way from second to score Jefferson’s final run.
“We have to know when we get back in a game like this we have to raise the intensity,” Lakeview Academy coach Deuce Roark said. “But we’ll learn from this — the season is a long road.”
Tyler Ward and Jacob Whitenton each had a single for the Lions. Haughton Carswell reached base twice for Lakeview Academy.
Jefferson visits Prince Avenue Christian at 7 p.m. tonight in Athens. Lakeview Academy visits Commerce at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.