CAIRO -- The Thomas County Yellow Jackets continue to get solid pitching performances from their starters, spoiling the Cairo Syrupmakers' senior night with a 4-1 victory Thursday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Chase Strickland started the game and shut down the Syrupmakers' offense for most of the night. Strickland pitched six innings, striking out five and allowing only two hits.
Matt Roach pitched the seventh and retired the Syrupmakers in order to earn the save.
Strickland's effort was the fourth straight quality start for the Yellow Jackets. During that stretch the Jackets are 3-1 and have allowed only nine runs. The only loss was a 5-3 loss to Region 1-AAAA champions Ware County in 10 innings.
Central interim head coach Matt Morgan believes his pitching has come around just at the right time.
"The pitching has been really good lately," Morgan said. "Chase pitched good and Matt came in and shut them down in the ninth. If the pitchers keep throwing like this, it will help us in the playoffs."
Strickland was in command from the outset. He took a no-hitter into the fourth before it was broken up by a two-out infield single by Zack Jenkins. Jenkins hit a ball back up the middle and shortstop Austin Taylor made a nice play in the hole, snagging the ball before it made it to the outfield, but as he spun to make the throw to first base the ball fell out of his hand.
"Austin made a great play on that ball, he just couldn't make the throw," Morgan said.
Jenkins, the lone senior on the Syrupmakers team, which finished the season 5-19, was glad he was the person to break up the no-hitter.
"I didn't want to go out with no hits," Jenkins said. "I wasn't going out like that."
The only other Syrupmaker hit came in the bottom of the sixth. Josh Daughtry reached base with a one-out walk and advanced to third on back-to-back wild pitches. Tyler Johnson followed with the only Syrupmaker run, blooping a double down the right-field line.
"Derek (Milton) would've had to been on his horse to get that one," Morgan said.
Although they only had two hits, Cairo head coach Tommy York believes his team hit the ball well.
"There's fell in, ours didn't," York said. "We just couldn't buy a hit. I can't complain, I just wish it would go right. Our luck is no luck."
The Syrupmakers also got a strong pitching performance from ace Jeremy Jones. Jones pitched a complete game and held the Jackets to one run after the second inning. Unfortunately for the Syrupmakers, the Jackets were able to score three runs in the first two innings to take the early lead.
Dean McDermond led the attack at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run batted in.
McDermond got things started in the first inning by lining a double to the gap in right-center field. Todd Newberry pinch ran for him and scored on a single by Matt Roach for the first run of the game. McDermond followed up his first double by roping another one down the left field line in the second scoring Milton making the score 3-0.
"Dean has been swinging the bat well," Morgan said. "His bat is peaking at the right time."
The win ends the regular season for both teams. The Jackets finished with a 14-11 record and a third place in region play. Although the pairings won't be announced until next week, they will most likely play Alexander High School in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Syrupmakers finished 5-19 overall and 3-7 in region play. It was a rough season for the young team, but Jenkins believes his teammates will turn it around.
"It's hard to believe it's over," Jenkins said. "I think they'll be better next year."
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