Thorsby wins pitching duel on opening night

Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2018

On a night when the Thorsby baseball field was named in honor of Russ and Wendy Bryan, the Rebels fittingly capped it off with a 3-1 opening night victory over Jemison on Feb. 20.

“It was nice to get a win on the night when we had the field dedicated,” Thorsby head coach Billy Jackson said.

It was a feeling out process for both teams in the early going, as the pitchers definitely had the upper hand on the batters.

Thorsby (1-0) had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the third inning, and Jemison (1-1) had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fourth. Both scoring opportunities were squandered, and the game remained scoreless.

Starting pitchers Trent Jones of Thorsby and Austin Chapman of Jemison did an excellent job of getting out of jams with the help of their defense behind them.

According to Jackson, the amount of rain leading up to the season has resulted in the Rebels throwing more bullpen sessions than would be the case during a full-fledge practice.

Jackson attributed that extra attention as a factor in the success of the pitching staff against Jemison.

Chapman threw 61 percent of his pitches for strikes, while Jones hit the strike zone 59 percent of the time.

The Rebels finally broke through on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Eric Bowden stole third base and came home after Tyler Jackson reached on an error. Bowden slid into home plate and beat the throw.

However, Thorsby was not done, as Peyton Carroll hustled down the first base line and beat out an infield single and earned an RBI. Jackson came around to score on the play, and instead of the third out of the inning it was the Rebels’ second run.

“We’re raw, and we didn’t swing it as well, but the main thing is that they are competing,” Jackson said. “If we continue to do that and work on getting better each day, we’ve got an opportunity to have the sky as the limit.”

Thorsby senior Cain Niece hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning and eventually scored from third on a wild pitch to the backstop.

“It tops it off even better anytime you beat a rival,” Thorsby catcher Tanner Jones said. “It gets you going.”

Chapman scored the only run of the game for the Panthers following a double in the sixth inning.

It was the season opener for Thorsby and the second game for Jemison on as many nights.

“High school baseball is like three seasons,” Jackson said. “You get preseason before you get to area play, and then hopefully you do well enough in area play to make it to the playoffs. We’re just trying to find the best nine [players] to put in the rotation and get all the quirks out by the time we start area play.”