Norcross, GA- The Crackers split a doubleheader with the Brookhaven Bucks at Norcross Monday evening, winning game one 3-1 and losing the nightcap 4-1.
The Crackers had but four hits in the 3-1 win. Cracker starter Ryan Watson scattered four hits and stuck out five in three innings of work. Cracker pitching coach Steve Autry; “Watty (Watson) struggled with his breaking pitch most of the time he was out there today. It’s a big part of his game. He just gutted it out and did the best he could. He’s a young guy who loves to compete. We’ve got to do a better job of holding runners on. Lewis and Hearn can really wreak some havoc on the bases if they get on. We’ll learn from it. Watson will be fine”. Cracker Reliever Michael Mayuski stayed perfect allowing no runs and striking out four pitching three innings in relief. Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “The pitching has been pretty darn good lately. Mike (Mayuski) is so reliable out there. We’ve got a lot of faith in his ability to go out and throw strikes and get outs.”
In a game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 6th, Cracker shortstop Brian Moore would reach after being hit by a pitch. Newly acquired Cracker Jordan Howard would go down swinging and Josh McAllister would reach on a fielders choice where Moore was forced out at second base for two outs in the inning. Zach West would draw a walk bringing pinch hitter Roury Glanton to the plate. Glanton popped up on the first pitch he saw but the ball would be misplayed by the Bucks center fielder, scoring the go ahead run on the play and advancing West to third. Tanner Green would fight off an inside pitch for a single to left scoring the third run. Luke Sutko would need but six pitches to retire the Bucks in the seventh to seal the win for the Crackers.
Meistickle on the Cracker offensive struggles; “We have to do a better job of making contact when we have men on base. Doing that puts some pressure on the defense to make a play. Even if we make an out, we can score runs. We’ve been striking out too much, not cutting our swings down and just trying to put the ball in play. It has to improve if we want to make a run.”
In game two, Cracker starter Brock Carter would strikeout five and allow only two hits over three innings. One of those hits would be to Bucks shortstop Jojo Odachowski. After Carter would hit a batter and walk the next one, Odachowski (Virginia Tech) would hit a 1-2 breaking pitch over the wall in left for a three run homer to give the Bucks a 3-0 lead. Coach Autry on the home run; “It was actually not that bad of a pitch. He (Odachowski) just went down and got it and was able to get it over the fence. Sometimes you get them, sometimes they get you.”
Brock Maxwell led the Crackers with two of the four hits in game two and would drive in the only run for Atlanta in the ninth with a single, scoring Mason Robertson who pinch ran for Noah Parrish after he reached first on an infield single. The Bucks would win game two 4-1. Bucks starter Zach Williams would be credited with the win after five strong innings, allowing but three hits and striking out five.
The Crackers return to action on Friday, July 6th and will play game one of a three game set against the Marietta Patriots.
Game time is 7pm from Norcross High School.
6/20/2018 – Legendary Georgia Southern head baseball coach Jack Stallings has passed away at the age of 87.
Cracker Manager Kevin Meistickle on the passing of legendary Georgia Southern Baseball Coach Jack Stallings; “Jack really helped put that program on the map. He was always very gracious to us. Back during our (Crackers) barnstorming days, he’d put us up in a local hotel and we’d play a series of games against his team. He thought it was good for his team to compete against players who had more experience as we were mostly all ex-professionals back then. He helped us with players and we helped him with guys over the years. Baseball has lost a true legend and real baseball man. He will be missed by many”.
With over 1200 games won as a head coach, coach Stallings ranks 28th all time with most wins by any Division I coach. His record of 859-582 at Georgia Southern remains tops for an Eagle head baseball coach. He is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall Of Fame, the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall Of Fame and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall Of Fame.
Cracker pitchers allow five runs over the first two innings. Crackers come up short in late game comeback effort and lose 9-6 to the Norcross Astros.
Cracker starter Jay Pendley struggled to find the strike zone in the first inning, walking four and allowing three earned runs on only one hit. Troy State commit, right hander Bay Witcher relieved Pendley in the second inning, allowing two runs on three hits striking out three and walking one.
After allowing five runs over the first two innings, Atlanta would mount their comeback in the third scoring two runs on hits from Jake Garner, Joah Curry and Zach West. In the fifth, the Crackers would strike again. A lead off triple high off the center field wall from Cracker Centerfielder Brock Maxwell and a ground out by Garner would plate another run to bring the Crackers closer, cutting the lead to 5-3.
Cracker reliever Austin Wojick (CVCC) would hit the first 2 batters he faced in the bottom half of the fifth. He would retire Astro DH Kel Johnson with a strikeout but would walk Astro first baseman Freddie Achecar to load the bases. David New would ground out to score another Astro run making it 6-3. With two outs, Astro Nick Clarno doubled to score two more Astros expanding the lead to 8-3. Wojick would give way to Cracker sidewinder Michael Mayuski who would record the final out of the fifth.
Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “It’s still early in the season but we’ve got to find a way to eliminate those two and three run innings for the other team. “Woji” (Wojick) was a pitch away from getting out of the mess he created. I’m glad Michael (Mayuski) could pick us up there”.
The Crackers would comeback again in the seventh, scoring three runs. Consecutive hits from Austin Holloway, third baseman Will Hudgins and Brock Maxwell would plate one run. Hudgins would tag and advance on a sacrifice fly from Jake Garner and would score later on a single from Joah Curry. Maxwell would score on a ground out from Augusta State second baseman Mason Robertson to once again pull the Crackers to within two runs, making the score 8-6. The Astros would score once more in the bottom of the seventh and go on to win the game 9-6.
“Entirely too many walks. We’ve got to stay in the strike zone if we want to get outs. We’re making it too easy by giving the other team free base runners. Our fielders were standing around a lot tonight and thats never good. We’ll get better”, Crackers pitching coach Steve Autry.
The Crackers are off this weekend but return to action Tuesday 6/19 to battle the Alpharetta Aviators at Legion Field in Alpharetta. Game time is 7pm.
An eight run third inning buried the Crackers as the Norcross Astro’s take game two of the three game series 8-2 at Norcross.
Cracker reliever Austin Hohm struggled to navigate through the Astros lineup after replacing starter Channing Walker in the third. The Astros would score eight runs in the inning which included a three run home run from Astro DH Kel Johnson off of Cracker reliever Beau Jones, who took over for Hohm in the inning. It was Johnson’s second homer against the Crackers this season.
Cracker pitching coach Steve Autry; “Well, obviously an eight run third takes you out of it. We have to eliminate that one big inning . After the third, the guys did a great job of stopping the scoring. We’ve gotta command our pitches better, work ahead and force contact if we get as deep as a 3-2 count. We still struck out 11 hitters”. He added, “It’s still early and we’re breaking up these games to let everybody throw a few times. Then we’ll piece it all together and go from there.”
Shortstop Zach West was the bright spot with the bat with a four hit night for the Crackers. Atlanta had eleven hits on the night but stranded thirteen runners on base.
The two teams complete the three game series tonight at Peachtree Ridge. Game time is 7pm.
A five run eighth inning secured the Crackers victory over the Norcross Astros Tuesday night at Peachtree Ridge High School.
Six Cracker pitchers limited the Astros to seven hits while striking out 13 hitters. One of those hits was a two run homer by Astro DH Kel Johnson off Cracker starter Ryan Watson.
The five run eighth inning began with singles from Jacob Kaufman and Tanner Green. Brock Maxwell and Roury Glanton were both hit by pitches. Then a balk, a walk and a clutch double from second baseman Mason Robertson capped off the scoring as Atlanta plated five runs. Jacob Kaufman led the Crackers offensively with three hits. Atlanta pounded out 12 hits on the night.
Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle on Robertson’s eighth inning double; “A timely hit by the kid opened it up. He’s capable of doing that every time if he (Robertson) just puts the ball into play and doesn’t try to swing too big.”
The Crackers return home Thursday night to Norcross High School for game two of the three game series against the Astros. First pitch scheduled for 7 PM.
Seven Cracker pitchers scatter four hits as Atlanta blanks the Patriots 6-0 at Norcross.
Bay Witcher made his Cracker debut allowing three soft hits in two innings, striking out two walking one. Channing Walker pitching the next two innings was credited with the win as Marietta could only muster one more hit over the next five innings.
Austin Holloway and Jacob Kaufman led the Cracker offense with two hits a piece and Zach West added a home run. Roury Glanton also added a big two RBI single in a four run sixth inning for the Crackers which proved to be more than enough.
Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “Big difference today was our pitchers forced contact. Only three bases on balls. Walks will kill you and they killed us Friday night at Marietta. You have to throw strikes and trust the defense. Much better. We made some big plays defensively and Roury got that big two run single to kind of get us going. Now we go back to Marietta (Monday night at 7pm). Gil will have his guys ready.”
Game three of the series is Monday night at Marietta High. Game time is 7pm.
The 2018 Sunbelt league season is upon us with the Atlanta Crackers opening the season against the 2017 league champion Marietta Patriots.
The Crackers will start the season with an entirely new look, practically rebuilding every piece of the team. “For several seasons we had the same nucleus. Four or five guys we could depend on day in and day out. We knew what we were getting on a day-to-day basis. About every four years you have to start over. 2018 will be that year for us”, said long time manager Kevin Meistickle. “With that being said, I really like the group of guys we’ve assembled to start the year. Coach Autry has worked hard on rebuilding the pitching staff and Coach Ethridge and I have been on the phones calling every contact we have to find some defensive help up the middle. It’s really tough to find middle infielders.” Mainstay players like Moon, Glore, Avery and Raasch have moved on. Meistickle believes the nucleus for the next 4 years starts this season. “Well you know what’s funny about baseball, every season brings new names, new players, a new group of guys who can make a difference. Time will tell but I believe we’ll be okay. We have good group of guys who just want to help the team anyway they can”.
Aside from rebuilding defensively and replacing the bats of Moon, Glore and Avery, the Crackers pitching staff will look drastically different this year. Returning are relievers Cloud, Mayuski and Wojick. The starting rotation will be all new. The Crackers will add the 2017 Gwinnett County Player Of the year and MillCreek standout Jay Pendley (Augusta State) and the current 2018 Walton County Player Of The Year And Region 5A Pitcher Of The Year from state champion Loganville High School Bay Witcher (Troy State) to help anchor the staff. “We’ll be young, for the most part and with a few exceptions, unproven against college hitters but this will be a fun year. They may be calling this staff “the octopus”, we’ve got arms all over the place. Lefties, righties, a few side arm guys, we’ll come at you from all directions”, said pitching coach Steve Autry. He adds, “We’ve got some depth in the middle, and after a week or so, we’ll know for sure how to make it all work. Should be a fun year.”
The Crackers open tonight in Marietta against the 2017 Sunbelt league champion Marietta Patriots. Game time is 7 PM.
Saturday will be a 12 noon start against those same Patriots with the Crackers returning home to Norcross High School.