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Johnson City baseball keeps dominating on the mound for victory against Harper

The Johnson City High School baseball team beat Harper 5-0 March 24 to remain unbeaten in District 28-2A play.

Harper (3-1) was picked to finish third in the district race behind the Eagles (9-,6 4-0) and Mason (11-4, 5-0).

Senior pitcher McCray Jacobs earned the win by allowing four hits, one walk and striking out 13 in six innings. Sophomore Johnny Slawinski took over in the seventh inning and needed only 14 pitches for three strikeouts to secure the victory.

“McCray ran out of pitches,” head coach Steven Shipley said, noting the pitch count rule by the University Interscholastic League.

Meanwhile, the Eagles plated three runs in the second inning, two in the third, and one in the fourth off six hits in the contest.

Reid Weirch had 2 RBIs off 2 hits, while Jacobs had 2 hits, and Hagen Birch had 1 hit.

“Reid came up big,” Shipley said. “He hit a ball to right field. Their right fielder couldn’t find the ball. He misread it. We ended up scoring two runs. We ruled it a double because they made a throwing error. He advanced to third with the error. The ball goes into the dug out, and he goes home. He accounted for three of the five runs.”

Harper pitcher Bryce Lake struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings.

Shipley said the program has data to back up why it’s important to the Eagles to plate at least five runs.

“We have a goal every game to score five runs,” he said. “We’ve gone back and looked at the last five or six years. The first team to score five runs wins. In the four years that I’ve been here, if we’re the first to score five runs, we win 94 percent of the time.”

He noted the five runs also forces the opposition to think about what they want to do with pitching.

“If you’re the first to score five runs against somebody who has a good pitcher, that pitcher is about to come off the mound,” the coach added, “You can create a pitching change. (In our classification), pitching changes are iffy. A lot of times, it’s the guy standing in the outfield. That kid has to stand up in a tough situation. It has to affect the mental state. Coming in in relief is really tough.”

Shipley said the assistant coaches see the positive changes in their players after the Eagles have five runs.

“Once we get to five, we feel we can relax a little bit,” he said. “The pressure is off. When we score five, our kids feel like we win.”

Harper comes to Johnson City at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 28.

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