After Monday’s 20-1 devastation of the northern Wildcats, Polk County (6-5, 2-0 district 5-AA) found the going a bit tougher in the midweek contest, leaving nine runners stranded.
“We had guys on every inning and they (Sweetwater) made some really big plays. They made great plays in the outfield that kept up from blowing it out. They had a much better effort offensively and defensively than they had on Monday,” said Polk coach Michael Carter. “They showed up to play today.”
The Benton Wildcats started the day off strong on the mound and at the plate. Starting pitcher Carter Flowers struck out the side to open the game. Chris Wimberley and Justin Brown led off with back-to-back triples. A Sweetwater error and a Polk ground ball made it a 3-0 game.
Sweetwater cut into Polk’s lead in the top of the third with two runs, but the Carter ’Cats responded with two more in the bottom of the inning on a Matt Hammons double, a hit batter and a single off the bat of Flowers.
The Sweetwater ’Cats stayed in the game with two more runs in their next at bat to cut it to 5-4.
“We are still not as clean as I’d like to be on defense, but we made the routine plays that kept them from putting any rallies together and posing much of a threat,” said the Polk coach.
Polk County roared back to take an 8-4 lead with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
Wimberley reached on an error and Duncan Coffey reached safely with a single. Both runners scored when Andrew Aldridge ripped a double to left field. Aldridge raced home for the third run of the inning for Polk on a wild pitch.
Carter lifted Flowers in favor of Brown to open the fifth and the lefty reliever held Sweetwater scoreless, fanning the side after hitting the first batter.
Brown helped his own cause in the lower portion of the frame with a double and scored one batter later on a Coffey single to make it a 9-4 game.
Brown struck out three more Sweetwater batters in the sixth and seventh to lock up the win for Polk.
“I was pleased with the way the guys pitched for the most part. Flowers threw the ball really good. We brought him back on a little bit of a shorter rest than what he is used to in order to have him loaded up and ready to go for Meigs County. He threw the ball well, he was in the strike zone and had good velocity.”
Carter speculated the only problem Flowers faced was from his sidearm style, which has a tendency to stay on a flat plane with little downward motion.
“I think that allowed them to put some balls in play they normally wouldn’t have,” Adams surmised.
“We brought Brown in and he just shut the door on them. They had trouble with his curve ball. He had good velocity today, also.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our arms that they can get the job done and get it in the zone. They did what we needed them to do.”
The Wildcats will be busy all weekend with baseball against some stiff competition in the Hixson Invitational, beginning with a meeting with Clarksville tonight at 6:15.
“We’ve got a big weekend in Hixson. There is going to be some good competition down there. We are going to play the big boys so we can get better. If Hunter (Carter) can have a good outing I think we will be right where we need to be against Clarksville, they’re a good team,” said Carter looking ahead. “If we can get the same thing out of our pitching we will be in all of our games. We’ve just got to catch the baseball and get some timely hitting.”
Polk will be back in district action Monday against rival Meigs County. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m in Benton.
“We’ve got a big series coming up against Meigs County. We are going to have to play really, really good to beat those guys,” said the Wildcats coach.
Sweetwater 002 200 0 — 4 6 6
Polk County 302 310 x — 9 8 3
WP: Carter Flowers. LP: Trevor Bihee. 3B: Chris Wimberley, Justin Brown (PC). 2B: Payton Robinette (S); Wimberley, Matt Hammons, Andrew Aldridge (PC). Other highlights: Brown 2-4, Duncan Coffey 2-3 (PC). Records: Polk County 6-5, 2-0 District 5-AA.