Georgia Tech right hander Jake Brace would need but 77 pitches over eight innings to lead the charge as the Bucks shut out the Crackers 12-0 Wednesday night in Norcross.
The Crackers bats were silenced in a dominant performance that included nine strikeouts, one walk and only three hits. Brace would face only four hitters over the minimum. Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “That was as dominant a performance as you’re ever going to see in this league. Brace was very efficient with this pitches, was on constant attack and had all pitches working tonight. You just tip your cap to a guy when he’s on like that. Great performance by Jake”.
The Crackers return to action Thursday night at Peachtree Ridge against the Norcross Astros. 7 PM start time.
The Crackers opened the 2019 season with an 11 hit attack, defeating the Norcross Astros 12 to 8 Tuesday night at Norcross.
Norcross jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a double from Astro Ali LaPread, after Cord Johnson led off with a single and Jadyn Jackson had reached on an error.
The Crackers came right back with two runs of their own which included a homerun from Cracker lead off hitter Jack Connelly, a single from Josh McAllister, a double from Cole Phillips and a sacrifice fly from Jermond Williams that allowed McAllister to tag up and score.
Norcross would add two more runs in the second inning taking a 4 to 2 lead into the bottom second inning. The Crackers would answer in the bottom half of the second inning with a 9 run attack that was aided by 3 walks, 3 errors and included 5 Cracker hits that included a bases loaded, base clearing triple from Cole Phillips.
The Astros would score four runs in the fifth but it wouldn’t be enough as the Crackers would cruise to a 12-8 victory.
Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “ I thought we swung the bat very well. To answer like we did in the first few innings says a lot about a team, even though it’s early that’s a good sign.”
On the pitching: Alex (Butler) pitched really well, kept the ball down and stayed on the attack. I thought the the guys pitching behind him did a good job. They have to stay aggressive, walk less hitters, but we have the summer to work on that. Even though we’re short two pretty good arms, for now, from last year, Autry (Cracker Pitching Coach) has a good group of guys to work with this summer. When we’re full strength, I’ll feel better.”
The Crackers are back in action Wednesday night 6/12 at Norcross to battle the 2018 SBL Champion Brookhaven Bucks. First pitch is 7 PM.
The 2019 Sunbelt League season opener is just days away and there will be many new faces on the diamond this year for the Atlanta Crackers. After taking a rebuilt team all the way to the semi finals in 2018, finishing with a second best record of 20-12, the Crackers will be once again be a team of new faces with only three players from the 2018 roster returning. Cracker manager Kevin Meistickle; “Last season we had a resilient, tough and gritty group of guys that were able to pull together for some wins down the stretch. We just didn’t have enough steam at the end of the year to win the games we had to win. Brookhaven played a tough Marietta team at the end and deserved to be the last team standing”.
When asked about this year’s team: “This year we are practically starting all over again. It’s become common place for players to stick around only one season and that makes it more challenging to put together a winning team. We want these guys to become better baseball players and advance through the ranks, but we also want to come together as a team and win. It’s special when you can do that. To be the last team standing. It forms a bond that can’t be broken.”
The Crackers open the 2019 SBL season Friday night at Oglethorpe against the Brookhaven Bucks.
Game time 6:30 PM
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.