Lake Oconee Academy junior starting pitcher Owen Etris threw a complete game, one-hit shutout as the Titans bested Towns County 1-0 on Senior Night.
The righthander had the no-hitter through four innings. To lead off the fifth frame, freshman outfielder Kade McConnell singled up the middle off Etris to record the Indian’s only hit of the evening. A few batters later, Etris walked Stone Chauncey to put runners on first and second. However, Etris stranded the two runners as he was able to get the next two outs and escape the jam.
“It felt good, and I am glad we got the win, especially on Senior Night,” Etris said after the game.
Etris added that the offense needs to be more consistent moving forward, although his team faced a great pitcher in the Indians’ Zane Floyd.
Floyd had an impressive outing as he limited the Titans to only two hits, but a number of defense errors by Towns County proved to be costly. He finished the game throwing 6.0 innings, surrendering one unearned one, striking out nine while walking two.
Titan senior JP Sheehan scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the fourth. He reached base on an error by Indians’ third basemen Aidan Berrong. Then, he advanced to second as Floyd walked Garrett Payne. A sacrifice fly moved Sheehan 90 feet closer to third as Payne advanced to second. Facing an 0-2 count, Rhett Sandhagen reached first on a bullet hit to Towns County shortstop Collin Crowder. Sheehan scored easily as Crowder bobbled the ball and was unable to get Sandhagen out.
“It’s a good thing on Senior Night to get a win like this, especially when we have everyone out here to watch us play,” Sheehan said. “And for me to come in and score that run, it was really big to boost our motivation and confidence the rest of the game. I feel this one win was important because it gives us a better chance of making the playoffs.”
Offensively, freshman Will Moore led the Titans with the team’s only two hits, while Sandhagen had to only RBI, which scored Sheehan. Seniors Alex Moore and Christian Greer didn’t reach base on Senior Night, but the pair made some great plays defensively to contribute to Etris’ one-hitter.
“JP, Christian and Alex, they’ve only got a few games left, so it’s great to get the dub for them tonight,” Etris said.
LOA head coach Jeremy Donaldson was proud of the way his team bounced back after losing the previous series to Washington-Wilkes.
“It was good for JP to score the only run, but overall, these three seniors have been outstanding leaders this year,” Donaldson said. “All three were voted captains and just from all year long from players only meetings to taking guys aside and leading by example. They’ve done an incredible job.”
To end the week, Lake Oconee Academy traveled to Hiawassee on Wednesday, April 7 to play a doubleheader. The Titans won the final two games of the series to complete the sweep over Towns County. The first game required extra innings as LOA scored nine runs in the top of the ninth to secure a 17-9 victory. In the second contest, the Titans 5-3 in seven innings. That improves their overall record to 11-8 and an almost guaranteed spot in the top four of Region 8A-Public, which is required for the program to make the state playoffs.