It took just one inning for the Upson-Lee Diamond Knights to see their three-game winning streak stopped in its tracks. In that inning, Jonesboro scored five runs, on three hits, a walk, and two crucial UL errors.
The Knights rallied to score two runs late in the seventh inning, including a solo homer from Austin Matson, but the four- run deficit proved too much for the Knights.
“I didn’t think we played terrible,” said UL head coach Wayne Puckett. “We just had a horrible fourth inning, and sometimes that’s all it takes. We had our chances to win the game, even with the bad inning, but we just couldn’t get the hits when we needed them. We have got to get more production from the bottom of our lineup.”
The production which Puckett was referring to, may have to do with the fact that the Knights went a combined 1 for 13 (.077 avg) from spots 5-9 in the lineup. On the positive side, the Knights went 5-11 (.455 avg) with four RBI in the 1-4 spots in the order.
UL’s Dalton Strom took the mound for the Knights to start the game. Strom did not have his best stuff, but was able to work around a few problems over the first three innings. Jonesboro took a 2-0 lead with three hits and a walk in the top of the first inning, but the Knights answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Matson led off with a walk. Kyle Kelly came in to run for Matson, but was caught too far off base and picked off. Brandon Blount was hit by a pitch. UL junior Matt Crews followed with a double, but Blount was held at third after it looked as if the Jonesboro center fielder may make a play on the ball. With runners on second and third and 1 out, senior Jordan Bosworth delivered a two-run single to right field, scoring Blount and Crews. Over the last three games, Bosworth is 6 for 12 with six RBI.
The Knights added two more runs in the bottom of the second inning, and it looked as if the Knights may be primed to win their fourth straight game. Elijah Hill led the inning off with a walk and was sacrificed over to second on a bunt by Logan Fowler. With Hill at second and one out, Strom looked to help himself with a base hit to left field. With runners at first and third, the Jonesboro pitcher attempted a pick off at first base, but threw the ball into right field, scoring Hill from third base and advancing Strom to second base.
Matson followed with a booming double to center field, for his first hit of the game. With runners at second and third, Blount grounded out to second base, scoring Strom from third base, giving UL a 4-2 lead.
Jonesboro answered with a single run in the top of the third inning, taking advantage of an Upson-Lee fielding error.
With a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth inning, the wheels fell off for the Knights. The Cards led off the inning with a double to center field that was nearly robbed by a diving Blount. Following the double, the Cards earned a walk and then a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt. After a strike out by Elijah Hill, who came in to relieve Strom on the mound, the Cards roped a line drive to right field for a single, but the sun caused havoc for the UL right fielder, and the ball was misplayed. After another double, the Cards held an 8-4 lead.
Hill retired the next seven batters, striking out four of those batters. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Matson blasted a long home run over the left field wall. Blount followed with a walk and stolen base. After Bosworth moved Blount over to third with a grounder to first, Blount came home to score the Knight’ sixth run on a wild pitch, but that’s as close as UL would get, falling 8-6 to Jonesboro.
Matson finished the game 2 for 2 with a RBI and a run scored. Bosworth added two hits and two RBI, Crews and Strom each tallied hits for the Knights, while Blount reached base three times and scored two runs.
The Knights took on Locust Grove last night in a make-up game, but the results of the game were not available by press time. UL will travel to Griffin tonight for another Region 4 showdown. Game time is slated for 5:30 p.m.