Diamond Knights toss back-to-back shutouts

Wes McCard

March 7, 2014

The Upson-Lee Knights are in the midst of a huge week of Region 4 baseball. After facing Jones County in a non-region game last week, Upson-Lee has the task of taking on Eagles Landing, North Clayton, and Stockbridge this week as Region 4 play gets underway. The Knights downed the Golden Eagles Monday night and the Eagles Wednesday night, and host the Tigers this afternoon at Historic Silvertown Ballfield.

On Monday night, the temperatures dropped to near freezing, but it was the arm of freshman Kalen Puckett which kept Eagles Landing’s bats cold. Puckett pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just three hits, while striking out three batters without allowing a walk, earning his second win of the season.

In the Knights contest with Eagles Landing, the Golden Eagles looked as if they may pose a threat to the Knights with a solid lead off single to start the game. However, after two quick outs Upson-Lee catcher Ben Spiller rocketed the ball down to Elijah Hill covering second base, as the Knights ended the top of the first inning catching the Eagles Landing player trying to steal second base.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Knights struck for the first runs of the game. Elijah Hill reached on a fielder’s choice and then stole second base and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Zack Gooden drew a walk and on ball four, Hill came home to score on a wild pitch, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead. After Gooden stole second base, Kalen Puckett stepped up to the plate to deliver a RBI single, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead after two innings of play.

Puckett, who only allowed three hits in the game, retired the Golden Eagles in order, sending the Knights back to the plate. In the bottom of the third inning UL senior Logan Fowler drilled a line drive over the right fielder’s head for a triple. Chris Duncan followed and struck out swinging, but the catcher dropped the ball and had to throw out Duncan at first base, with Fowler scoring on the throw, giving UL a 3-0 lead.

Matt Crews followed with a sharp line drive to left field for a hit and then stole second base. Elijah Hill followed with a RBI single to left field, scoring Crews and giving Upson-Lee a 4-0 lead. Hill stole second base and third base, and then scored on Zack Gooden’s ground ball to second base, increasing the Knights’ lead to 5-0.

After another scoreless inning in the top of the fourth, Kalen Puckett led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left field. Puckett advanced to second base on a wild pitch and then stole third base. With Kyle Kelly at the plate, the Eagles Landing pitcher threw ball four past the catcher, scoring Puckett from third base on a wild pitch. Kelly then advanced to third base on a Logan Fowler’s second hit of the game. With runners at first and third, Upson-Lee junior Levi Long laced a ground ball up the middle for a fielder’s choice, giving him a RBI and scoring Kelly from third base.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, leading by a 7-0 score, the Knights finished the game with the 10-run rule victory. Elijah Hill reached on an error, and promptly stole second and third base. Brandon Blount followed with a line drive RBI hit to score Hill and give Upson-Lee an 8-0 lead. Bennett Pardue stepped to the plate in a pinch hit appearance, and moved Blount over to second base with a ground ball to first. After Blount stole third base, Kalen Puckett drew a walk and stole second base. On the throw down to second, Blount scored to give the Knights a 9-0 lead. On the very next pitch, Puckett stole third base and came home to score the game ending run on a throw over the third baseman’s head by the catcher.

Kalen Puckett led the Knights with two hits, a RBI, and two runs scored, while Logan Fowler also added two hits and a run scored. Elijah Hill finished with a hit, RBI, and three runs scored, while Brandon Blount added a hit, RBI, and run scored. Matt Crews also chipped in with a hit and a run scored in the victory.

On Wednesday the Knights traveled to North Clayton High School to take on the Eagles in another Region 4 contest. Upson-Lee senior Justin Shaw started his first game of the season after appearing in two save situations earlier in the year. Shaw pitched beautifully, going six innings, allowing zero runs on just two hits. Shaw recorded seven strikeouts and walked two batters. Shaw threw 87 pitches, 55 for strikes in the 7-0 victory. Brandon Blount pitched the final inning, recording two strikeouts in the game.

The Knights jumped on the Eagles in the top of the first inning. Kalen Puckett led the game off with a ringing double to right-center field. Later in the inning, Puckett stole third base, and then came home to score on a RBI single from senior Matt Crews.

In the top of the second inning, the Knights added another run to take a 2-0 lead. Kaleb Allen was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. Levi Long laced a RBI double to right field, scoring Allen from second base.

The score remained 2-0 until the top of the fifth inning, when the Knights added another run. Elijah Hill led the inning off with a solid single, but was picked off at first base. Levi Long earned a walk and eventually advanced all the way home on three passed balls, giving Upson-Lee a 3-0 lead.

The Knights loaded the bases in the top of the sixth inning with two outs. Matt Crews and Ben Spillers each walked, and then for a team leading sixth time this season, Kaleb Allen was hit by a pitch. Crews then scored on a passed ball by the North Clayton catcher, as the Knights took a 4-0 lead.

In the seventh inning, Levi Long reached on an error and then stole second base. Justin Shaw drew a walk , followed by a RBI single from Kalen Puckett, scoring Long and giving UL a 5-0 lead. The Knights added two more runs in the inning, on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly from Kyle Kelly.

Matt Crews led the Knights with two hits, a RBI, and a run scored, while Kalen Puckett added two hits, a RBI, and two runs scored. Levi Long finished with a hit, two runs scored and a RBI, while Elijah Hill and Logan Fowler also chipped in with hits in the game. Kyle Kelly added a RBI with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh inning.

Wes McCard can be contacted at (706) 647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.