The Seniors of Swing, Lumpkin County’s two senior softball teams the Lumpkin County Miners and the Dahlonega Gold, stepped onto the diamond last week for some Clayton League play when the Miners squared off with the Franklin Old Bones and the Gold battled it out with the Rabun County Relics on Wednesday, July 17.
The Lumpkin County Miners maintained their spot at the top of the Sal DeVito Division of the Clayton League standings when they were able to earn a split in a league doubleheader versus the Old Bones when the two teams met up and took to the diamond at Field #6 at the Rabun Parks Department last week.
The Miners’ potent lineup got started early in game one versus Franklin. Lumpkin scored five runs in the first inning to take a quick 5-0 advantage. Casey “Boomstick” Brooks got the inning started with a lead-off double. Brooks didn’t stand at second base for long, as “Hammering” Harvey Schmedlapp followed with a RBI triple to right field that plate Brooks and gave the Miners a 1-0 lead. Jeff “MVP” Olsen kept things rolling with a RBI single to right that scored Schmedlapp and upped the Miners’ lead to 2-0. Don “Powerhouse” Paul belted a double to give Lumpkin runners at second and third. Wayne “Got Em” Gaddis didn’t let the opportunity to score more runs get away from him and connected with a RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0. Bill “Bash Em” Boyer followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield that plated Paul and extended the lead to 4-0. After an error by the Franklin third baseman allowed Wayne “Happy Feet” Richards to reach first base and a walk to Kurt “The Big Hurt” Picker loaded the bases, the Miners struck for one more run when Jerome “Jackhammer” Kitchens was able to single to left field to score the fifth run of the inning.
Lumpkin County starting pitcher Larry “The Rocket” Rodgers and the Miners’ defense held the Old Bones to two runs in the bottom of the first to maintain a 5-2 lead.
In the top of the second, the Miners went back to work at the plate and added another four runs to the scoreboard to take a 9-2 lead. The four-run inning was highlighted by a RBI triple off the bat of Rodgers, RBI doubles by Schmedlapp and Olsen and a RBI single from Paul.
The Old Bones got one run back in the bottom of the inning with a RBI single to center, but the Miners still led 9-3.
The Miners continued to make life difficult for Franklin’s pitcher and defense in the top of the third when they scored five more runs to extend their lead to 14-3. Richards started things off with a lead-off single up the middle. Richards was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice to the Franklin shortstop off the bat of Picker for the first out of the inning. With Picker standing at first, Kitchens delivered a single to center field to give the Miners runners at first and second. Vince “Atta Boy” Adams hammered a pitch to center for a double, scoring Picker and moving Kitchens to third. Adams’ RBI double gave the Miners a 10-3 advantage. After a foul out to third base by Rodgers for the second out of the inning, Lumpkin began a two-out, four-run rally that would allow them to take a commanding 14-3 lead.
Joe “Nitro” Nelson got the two-out rally started with a two-run double down the third base line. Brooks connected for a RBI single before Schmedlapp blasted a hard hit ball through the right side of the infield to keep the two-out rally alive. The inning ended with Olsen knocking in the fifth run of the inning with a RBI single to right field. The big inning allowed the Miners to take a nine-run lead into the bottom of the third.
The Old Bones finally began to get to Rodgers and the Lumpkin defense in the bottom of the third and scored four runs to cut the Miners’ lead to 14-7. Franklin’s four-run inning came in the form of a two-out rally, as the Old Bones scored three of their four runs after the Miners turned a nicely executed double play at the start of the inning.
A RBI single by Richards and a RBI fielder’s choice from Picker allowed the Miners to score two more runs in the top of the fourth, giving Lumpkin a 16-7 advantage. But, the Old Bones proved they still had a lot of life left in them when they plated five runs in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Miners’ lead to four runs at 16-12. The Old Bones recorded nine hits in the inning.
Finding themselves all of the sudden in a fight, the Miners’ lineup kept plugging away at the plate in the top of the fifth and scored three times to get a bit more separation on the scoreboard between themselves and the Old Bones. RBI singles by Schmedlapp, Paul and Gaddis accounted to the Miners’ fifth inning production and gave Lumpkin a 19-12 lead.
Rodgers and the Lumpkin defense set the Old Bones down in order in the bottom half of the frame to maintain the 19-12 lead.
The Miners scored twice more in the top of the sixth off a two-run single down the first base line by Nelson, upping their lead to 21-12.
Franklin wasn’t as lucky at the plate in their final two innings, and was only able to score two more runs in the game.
The end result was a 21-14 victory for the Miners in game one of the Clayton League doubleheader.
Game two proved to be a heartbreaker for the Miners.
Lumpkin starting pitcher Jimmy “Four Quarters” Dollar and the Miners’ defense had a rough top of the first, as Franklin’s lineup heated up and quickly put four runs on the scoreboard to take an early 4-0 lead.
However, the Miners answered right back in the bottom of the first with four runs of their own to even the score at 4-4.
The score remained the same until the top of the third when the Old Bones benefitted from a RBI sacrifice fly and a RBI double to the gap in left center to take a 6-4 advantage.
The Franklin lead didn’t last long, however, as the Miners struck for five runs in the bottom of the inning. A Paul RBI double, a Gaddis two-run triple and RBI singles from Richards and Picker allowed the Miners to retake the lead at 9-6.
After the explosive offensive showing by Lumpkin’s lineup in the bottom of the third, the Miners’ defense flashed sensational leather in the top of the fourth to hold Franklin scoreless.
Brooks added another run to the scoreboard for Lumpkin in the bottom of the fourth to give the Miners a 10-6 advantage, but that advantage slipped away in the top of the fifth when the Old Bones struck for four runs to retie the ballgame at 10-10.
A RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Boyer in the bottom of the fifth allowed Lumpkin to take control again at 11-10. The Miners held the one-run advantage until the top of the seventh when Franklin benefitted from a two-run triple to take a 12-11 lead.
Schmedlapp offered up some heroics at the plate for the Miners in the bottom of the seventh when he rocketed a one-out monster shot over the fence in right center to even the score at 12-12. Unfortunately for the Miners, Lumpkin would not be able to score another run in the inning and the game would go to extra innings.
The Old Bones were able to score a single run in the top of the eighth to take a one-run lead at 13-12 and then set the Miners down in order in the bottom half of the inning to take game two by a final score of 13-12, allowing Franklin to earn a split with Lumpkin.
Despite the heartbreaking loss in game two, the Miners remained atop the Sal DeVito Division of the Clayton League standings and were able to separate themselves from second place Tri-State thanks to the Pickups being swept by the Hendersonville Sluggers, the top team in the Gordy Scargle Division.
While the Miners split their Clayton League doubleheader with Franklin, the Dahlonega Gold hoped to earn their second league victory of the season when they squared off with the Rabun County Relics at the Ruby Fulbright Softball Complex for a league doubleheader.
The Gold’s second win of the season once again proved elusive, as the Relics were able to eke out two close victories over Dahlonega.
The Gold lost game one by a final score of 18-11 and game two by a final of 14-12.
After starting the season with little to no offense, the Gold have continued to improve at the plate as the season progresses. And, despite their current record, the Gold had proven that the poor record isn’t going to get to them down and that they will continue to battle until the final game of the season.
The Lumpkin County Miners (15-5) and the Dahlonega Gold (1-19) will face off against each other in a battle of the top and bottom teams in the Sal DeVito Division of the Clayton League standings when they travel to the Lanier Point Softball Complex today, July 24. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 10 a.m.