The Andrews High varsity baseball team opened up the Lake City Preseason Tournament with a 6-3 win over Williamsburg Academy Feb. 25. The Yellow Jackets start the season 1-0 for the first time in several years while the Stallions are 1-1.
Senior pitcher Bryce Johns pitched a complete game, allowing just four hits and striking out six batters. Johns did not allow an earned run in the contest.
“It feels good to get the first win of the season out of the way,” Johns said. “My curveball was on tonight and I was able to work the corners of the plate.”
Andrews head coach Roland Clemons said Johns was efficient in his first outing of the season.
“After three pitches, we want the guy either in the dugout or on first. Bryce did a pretty good job of that tonight,” Clemons said.
At the plate Brett Powell weny 2-4 at the plate and drove in a run while Eli Durham went 2-2 with a walk. Johns went 1-4 on the night with two strikeouts, but his one hit was a double down the left field line that scored Powell in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Williamsburg pitcher Connor Moore took the loss, pitching 5.0 innings and allowing five earned runs and four walks. He also struck out five batters. Colby Newton and Holt McFadden both went 1-3 at the plate with an RBI each.
With the game tied at 1-1 at the start of the fifth inning, Williamsburg reached base on an error and was able to move that runner to third base. Later in the inning, Williamsburg grounded a ball back to Johns on the mound, and he proceeded to chase down the runner attempting to score for the out, holding the Stallions scoreless in the frame.
In the sixth inning, with another runner on third, Johns struck out a batter with a breaking pitch, but catcher Cole Martin couldn’t carroll the pitch, allowing the runner at third to score and the batter to reach first base, giving the Stallions a 2-1 lead.
The Yellow Jackets responded in the home half of the sixth inning, starting with the Johns RBI double that tied the game at 2-2. Tyler Harrington followed with a single that moved Johns to third base and a walk loaded the bases. Kadyn Kellahan drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to give the Yellow Jackets a 3-2 lead.
An error by the Stallions and a bases loaded walk gave the Yellow Jackets a 5-2 advantage before an infield single by Powell scored the final run of the game.
Williamsburg added a run in the top of the seventh inning, but Johns snagged two ground ball outs to end the game.
Andrews will travel to Lamar tonight for game two of the tournament before hosting Lake City on Wednesday.
Season preview: Yellow Jackets looking to make playoff push
The Yellow Jackets ended last season with a 9-15 record and finished in third place in 2A Region 7, earning a playoff spot in the process. The Yellow Jackets did not win a playoff game, however, and were eliminated by Buford.
Two of the best bats from last year's team, Dayton Altman (.358 average and .987 OPS) and Dylan Morris (.329 average and six triples), both graduated.
This season the Yellow Jackets have four seniors, three of which have varsity baseball experience. Johns posted a .308 batting average and led the team in RBI (17) and runs scored (19). Powell hit .275 last season for the Yellow Jackets while shortstop Jarian Pinckney hit .279 and drove in 15 runs.
Johns was arguably the Yellow Jackets best pitcher last season, posting a 3.68 ERA in 38 innings of work while striking out 32 batters.
The rest of the team, Clemons said, has little to no varsity experience and the inexperience at the plate will be the team’s biggest weakness. Clemons said he has enjoyed working with this team in preseason.
“We have youth. It’s exciting because they are fun to coach and they are so young, they don’t know any better but to get better,” Clemons said. “They pay attention and they are picking up things pretty quick.”
Clemons will rely heavily on his defense to keep the Yellow Jackets within striking distance at all times.
“I think defense will be our strength,” Clemons said. “We had a couple timely hits tonight, but if you play sound defense and limit their runs you always have a chance to win.”
In his final season as a Yellow Jacket, Johns said he wants to finish in the top three in the Region 7 standings and host a playoff game.
“I’d like to go deep in the playoffs. We haven’t done that in baseball since I’ve been here. That will be a successful senior season,” Johns said.
Baseball scores from Feb. 25
Latta 15 Carvers Bay 0 (3 innings)