When the count reached 100 pitches, Adams trotted out to see if King was ready to turn the leather over. Luckily for Adams and the Bears the answer was negative.
King proceeded to live up to his last name and became the King of the day, finishing off the final two Soddy-Daisy Trojans in the top of the seventh inning with the score tied 0-0.
Then, with one out in the bottom of the inning, pinch hitter Austin Calfee walked off as the offensive hero for the Bears with an RBI single that broke the tie and gave Bradley Central the District 5-AAA championship.
The win earned the Bears home field advantage Monday in the Region 3-AAA tournament against either Cookeville or Warren County.
“All year long if somebody has been kind of in a slump or I needed him to spell somebody, he’s the guy. I had all the confidence in the world in him,” Adams said of his game-winning hitter. “When he’s not in there he’s always honing his swing and keeps his head up. When he gets his number called he looks like he’s been there before. He’s pretty clutch.”
The winning hit was set up by a brilliant performance off the hill by King, who fanned nine Trojans to bring his season ‘K’ count to 84 in 61 innings of work. Wednesday, the Bears junior righty kept his perfect season intact at 7-0. King gave up only three hits to Soddy-Daisy while nullifying any nervousness Adams felt over the early start.
“I was concerned with the 4 o’clock start time. We go from pitching in 45-degree weather to 85. Once he got to 100 pitches he was done. I told him he was facing his last hitter and asked if he wanted him, he said, “Yeah, I can get him.” Holding them to three hits and putting those zeroes up is really something,” said an impressed Adams.
For King, it was just another day at the office.
“I felt pretty good. I had a fastball and I dumped in a curve ball every now and then, and when you do that every high school pitcher is going to be successful. I was on today. I had my fastball but my curve and slider really set it for me,” said the lanky hurler. “I was able to keep them off-balance, and if they did catch up to my fast ball I just dumped in a curve ball to keep them guessing. I felt pretty good, for the most part.”
King’s counterpart in the opposite dugout did his best to keep the Bears off the scoreboard for six innings before being relieved with two outs and two Bears on base in the bottom of the seventh. Colin Kearney fanned seven batters while giving up just two walks.
“I really thought we would score more against them, but sometimes we were one or two pitches and out of an at bat. We didn’t have a very good approach at the plate today, but we can get better on that,” said Adams.
Tanner Cox picked up the first Bradley hit with a single in the second, and Hunter Rogers doubled for the Bears in the fourth but both were left standing.
Another series of sparkling catches by center fielder Cal Pickel played no small part in keeping the Trojans off the scoreboard.
“Cal defensively covers the other two-thirds of the earth out there,” said Adams. Defensively, we did our jobs for the most part in the field and it paid off.”
Soddy-Daisy picked up its fourth hit against King with one out in the top of the seventh. King hit the next batter and with Trojans on first and second, a pair of fly balls to center put an end to the minor threat.
“I felt like Ty could give us a chance in the seventh and he did,” Adams said of the effort.
Logan Blackwell opened the Bears’ half of the seventh with a single to center and Jordan Timmons reached when a sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a Soddy error that prompted a Trojans pitching change. After the swap, the new Soddy hurler got out No. 1, but thumped Tanner Cox to load the bases.
Enter Austin Calfee.
The Bears pinch hitter worked the Trojans to a 2-2 count before lacing a single between third and short to bring in pinch runner and Soddy-Daisy transfer Brett Standifer with the winning run.
“Ty had been pitching good all game, the bases were loaded and they called on me, and I had to get the job done. I was looking for a fastball because he hadn’t thrown a lot off speed. I got a fastball and I swung and it made it through,” said a happy Calfee. “It’s the biggest hit I’ve ever had.”
The Bears will rehearse for the region tournament until Monday, when they face today’s District 6-AAA runner up inside the friendly confines of the Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex.
“Monday is a one-game season. We want to extend it until Friday. Getting to host is a big deal, not having to travel,” said Adams. “Baseball games have good and bad, ebbs and flows. We didn’t panic and just found a way at the end. Of course I wish we could have found a way in the fourth or fifth, but it didn’t go that way.”
Six Bears received post-tournament honors: Ty King, Cal Pickel, Chandler Hamilton, Hunter Rogers, Logan Blackwell and Jordan Timmons were named to the 5-AAA All-Tournament team.
BEARS 1, TROJANS O
Soddy-Daisy 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
Bradley Central 000 000 1 — 1 3 1
WP: Ty King (7-0) CG, 9 K’s. LP: Colin Kearney. 2B: Hunter Rogers (BC). Highlights: Devan DeMatteo 1-3, Caden Ricketts 1-3, Tre Carter 1-3 (SD); Rogers 1-3, Logan Blackwell 1-3, Austin Calfee 1-1 GW RBI, Cox 1-3 (BC). Records: Soddy-Daisy 20-16; Bradley Central 21-11.