The Johnnies needed 11 innings to beat MBC-rival Fredericktown 9-8 on April 17 as Jacob Kennedy lined a single to right field to drive in Austin Montgomery with the winning run.

It took the Johnstown-Monroe High School baseball team nine games to earn a victory, and coach Don Carter said the key to success was simple -- hitting the ball.

The Johnnies needed 11 innings to beat MBC-rival Fredericktown 9-8 on April 17 as Jacob Kennedy lined a single to right field to drive in Austin Montgomery with the winning run.

"We spent the practice (April 15) doing nothing but swinging the bat and hitting the ball as hard as we could hit it," Carter said. "We came out hitting really well and our team batting average went up seven points after those three games, which is a pretty good jump."

On April 18, the Johnnies split with Berne Union, winning 6-4 and losing 11-9. During that three-game stretch, Montgomery hit .636 and Kurt Sammons hit .462.

"Our leadoff hitter, Richie Shults, is starting to get on base and that really gets us going," said Carter, whose team had eight hits against Fredericktown, eight hits in the first game April 18, nine in the second and 11 last Thursday in an 8-4 win over Danville. "He's taking lot of walks now, and when he gets on base we can do different things. We like to play small ball and that sets up bunts and things like that."

Carter said his team not only is getting hits, but it is hitting the ball smartly and going with the pitch to the opposite field.

"We need to use all fields and fittingly the game-winning hit against Fredericktown was to right field," Carter said. "Jacob went with the pitch and drove the ball hard to the right side. That just started happening (against Fredericktown). The kids started hitting the ball (to the right side) and things started falling our way."

Kennedy and Montgomery had four hits against the Freddies and Sammons had two. Colton Rosshirt threw the final six innings to earn the victory.

"In practice (April 16), we talked to the pitchers about location," Carter said. "They had been worrying about trying to throw so many pitches and they needed to be more concerned with just throwing strikes."

The Johnnies returned four senior starters in Jake Hollis, Montgomery, Rosshirt and Sammons. Carter credited the four as helping the younger players stay focused during the 0-8 start.

"The four seniors and their leadership right now are helping us turn things around," he said. "They have helped give the underclassmen confidence in playing the game between the lines. We have to be able to play seven innings of baseball and not just four or five."

Johnstown will play Wednesday at Utica in a game moved from last Tuesday. The first time the teams met, Utica ace Michael Sandman threw a two-hitter in an 11-0 win April 8 in the league opener.

"We been competitive all year, except for first game against Utica," Carter said. "I'm not really sure how confident we were going into that game and Sandman threw a two-hitter. "Since then, we've been working on out discipline at the plate. We have to know the strike zone. We should know what the pitcher likely will throw in certain situations. They should know what to expect when count is 0-2."

•The boys lacrosse team picked up its first victory last Monday 6-4 over Watterson in a Division 2, Region 3 game. Bret Bohning scored three times, Will Carter had two goals and Mitchell Hendren had one.

"We have been having bad luck with the weather, but the sun came out at about (8 p.m. last Monday) and we ended up winning," coach Tom Eckels said. "But it all came down to fundamentals and being more organized on the field.

"We have been running the offense better and being more committed on defense. We've been hanging back on defense and committing fewer penalties. We probably have committed more penalties than anyone in the league and it really hurts you in the cross when you're down a man."

Eckels said one of his strengths is goalie Brad Couts.

"The other coaches have all commented how good of a job he has been doing for us," Eckels said. "He's top-notch because of his quickness and awareness. He'll look the shooter right in the eyes and he follows the ball into the stick."

Against Watterson, Couts was called for a penalty and had to go to the sideline. With the backup goalie out and nobody else to use, Zach Beacom volunteered to stand in net.

"That's senior leadership for you," Eckels said. "Going into a goal without any background and taking 90 mph rubber-ball shots to the face is something not many kids would want to do. But he stepped in when we needed him most."

Reed Franklin has also helped the Johnnies by moving to various spots around the field.

"Reed is a freshman and he's been switching and playing multiple positions," Eckels said. "Normally he plays midfield, but he has taken on a defensive role for us because of a need on that part of the field."

The Johnnies fell 1-5 overall and 1-4 in Division 2, Region 3 with a 14-6 loss to New Albany last Wednesday. Bohning scored four goals and Carter had two.


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Johnstown-Monroe baseball, softball, boys and girls track and field and boys lacrosse teams:

BASEBALL

*April 17 -- Defeated Fredericktown 9-8 in 11 innings

April 18 -- Defeated Berne Union 6-4; lost to Berne Union 11-9

*Last Monday -- Game at East Knox postponed. It was rescheduled for May 7.

*Last Thursday -- Def. Danville 8-4

*Last Friday -- Played Centerburg

Last Saturday -- Played Highland (doubleheader)

*Monday -- At Northridge

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Danville

*Wednesday -- At Utica. The game was postponed from last Tuesday

*Friday -- At Fredericktown

*Saturday -- At Centerburg. The game was postponed from April 7

Of note: The Johnnies were 3-9 overall and 2-2 in MBC before last Friday.

SOFTBALL

*April 17 -- Def. Fredericktown 8-0

April 18 -- Def. Pleasant 4-3 in eight innings; def. Pleasant 3-2

*Last Monday -- Game at East Knox postponed. It was rescheduled for May 7.

*Last Tuesday -- Def. Utica 6-0

Last Wednesday -- Def. Heath 12-0

*Last Thursday -- Def. Danville 1-0

Last Saturday -- Played Bloom-Carroll

*Monday -- At Northridge

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Danville

*Friday -- At Fredericktown

Of note: The Johnnies were 11-3 overall before last Saturday and are 5-1 in the MBC.

TRACK & FIELD

*Last Tuesday -- Boys: Tied Loudon-ville and Utica for first (80) ahead of Northridge (20); Girls: Finished first (122) ahead of Northridge (50), Utica (44) and Loudonville (35)

Last Saturday -- Competed in Mount Vernon Relays

*Tuesday -- At Loudonville

*MBC contest

LACROSSE

Last Saturday -- Lost to Perrysburg 11-9

Last Monday -- Def. Watterson 6-4

Last Wednesday -- Lost to New Albany 14-6

Tuesday -- Home vs. Gahanna

Thursday -- Home vs. Big Walnut

Friday -- At Delaware

Saturday -- Home vs. Whitehouse Anthony Wayne

Of note: The Johnnies are 1-5.