SODDY-DAISY — The good news is for the third time in four years, Bradley Central will get to host a TSSAA Sectional Game tonight at the McKenzie Baseball Complex.The better news is Stewarts Creek, …
SODDY-DAISY — The good news is for the third time in four years, Bradley Central will get to host a TSSAA Sectional Game tonight at the McKenzie Baseball Complex.
The better news is Stewarts Creek, which ended Bear seasons last year and in 2016, won't be the opponent coming to town, but Bradley knows Lincoln County isn't a cakewalk to Murfreesboro.
"Having to turn right around and face Lincoln County in the substate tomorrow (tonight at 7) will be a tough challenge," remarked veteran coach Travis Adams after his Bears ripped Soddy-Daisy 7-3 in the Region 3-AAA Championship Game Wednesday evening in northern Hamilton County.
"They (Lincoln) were able to play their region championship game last night (Tuesday), so they'll have an extra day of rest on us, but with graduation schedules, we have to do what we can to work around them."
The Falcons (17-18) of Coach Matt Allen, a former Polk County standout player and assistant coach, were nipped by Riverdale 3-2 in the Region 4 title game Tuesday.
Soddy-Daisy (23-13) will journey to Murfreesboro Friday evening to battle the Warriors (24-12) with a state tournament berth on the line.
Lincoln County has graduation Friday evening, while Bradley's is Saturday morning, leading to moving the substate game to tonight.
Bradley (21-14) held off Lincoln County 4-3 in a home contest back in late March during the Ooltewah Invitational.
"Don't let their (Lincoln) record fool you. Matt (Allen) will have his team ready to give us all we want," commented Coach Adams. "He's done a great job over there. We only were able to beat them by a run earlier in the season."
Both teams are looking to punch their ticket for the TSSAA Spring Fling, which will begin Tuesday. Bradley's last trip to the state tournament was in 2007, the season before Adams took over the club from longtime coach Greg Geren.
Like they did Monday night in Cookeville, Bradley jumped out to a quick lead and got a strong pitching performance to secure the region crown.
"We came out swinging the bat well. Those two home runs in the second inning were huge," assessed Coach Adams. "We did that (scored early) at Cookeville the other night and that really helped us. I was proud of our guys for their at-bats and our defense for the most part (although they did commit two errors).
"Jake (Thompson) set the tone on the mound. He was pounding the zone and getting a couple of pitches going," praised the Bear mentor.
"He did great against Soddy (a two-hit shutout) the first game of the season. Then he had a little control problems and stayed away from pitching a little bit, but has come back strong.
"In this type of environment, I'm really happy for him to be able to go the distance and get the win. He's a senior and did what we needed him to do tonight," Adams added.
With the first four Bear batters reaching base, Bradley roared out to a quick 2-0 lead in the game's opening at bat.
Lee University signee Dylan Standifer led things off with a single and stole second. After a walk to senior Caden Sherlin, junior Lee commit Riley Black beat out an infield single to jam the sacks.
Thompson helped his own cause by drawing the first of his three free passes on the night to plate Standifer. Classmate Ryan Giovengo brought home Sherlin a moment later with a sacrifice fly.
The Black-and-Gold flexed its muscles in their next at-bat as Standifer launched his first home run of the season, a one-out solo shot over the deep center field wall.
After Sherlin stroked a single, Black "went yard" for the third time this spring to drive in his team-leading 32nd and 33rd RBIs.
"The team hit and got me a good lead, so I was just trying to throw strikes. The team backed me up and made some great plays," Thompson proclaimed. "This means a lot to get this win."
Soddy-Daisy scored an unearned run after Harrison Travis reached on an error to start the bottom of the fourth. His courtesy runner, Dylan Caldwell, came around when Landon Maynor stroked a two-out single.
Bradley pushed its lead to 7-1 with a pair of scores in the top of the fifth without benefit of a hit. Junior Logan Weeks and sophomore Ashton Simmons both drew walks and later came home on wild pitches.
After giving up three runs in the final frame to lose last week's District 5-AAA championship game to the Trojans, the Bears had a little déjà vu in the seventh inning last night, giving up a pair of runs.
"I got a little tired there toward the end, but I really wanted to finish it," related Thompson.
Despite giving up a pair of hits and walking two, plus a throwing error behind him, the big lefty struck out a pair, including the game's final batter, to secure the Bears' third region title in his career.
"I wanted to give him (Thompson) a chance to finish it out. He got tired, but we had enough of a cushion to let him finish it up," Coach Adams explained.
Going the distance, Thompson upped his pitching record to 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA. He notched eight Ks to lift his total to 36 in 30.1 innings pitched.
At the dish, the southside swinger also reached base all four times with a single to go with his three walks. He raised his batting average to .313, plus his on base percentage to .441 and RBI mark to 31.
Co-District Players of the Year Standifer (.364, .493) and Black (.364, .496) led the offense, both going 3-for-4 and leaving the yard.
Sherlin (.336 OBP) reached base twice and scored both times, while Giovengo (.389) had a single as well in the Bear nine-hit attack.
Region 3-AAA Tournament
at Tom Higgins Field
Bradley Central3200200 — 7 9 2
Soddy-Daisy0001002 — 3 6 0
WP: Jake Thompson (3-2) 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 8 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HBP. LP: Chris Branam (SD) 1.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 ER, 0 K, 3 BB. HRs: Dylan Standifer (1), Riley Black (3) (BC). 2B: Garrett Dent (SD). RBIs: Black 2 (33), Standifer (17), Ryan Giovengo (18), Thompson (31) (BC); Spencer Gore, Landon Maynor (SD). LOB: BC 9; SD 8. Highlights: Black 3-4, HR, 2 RBIs, run; Standifer 3-4, HR, RBI, BB, 2 runs; Thompson 1-1, 3 BBs, RBI; Giovengo 1-3, RBI; Cade Sherlin 1-4, BB 2 runs (BC): Maynor 1-3, RBI; Gore 1-4, RBI; Coffelt 1-3, run (SD) Records: Bradley Central 21-14; Soddy-Daisy 23-13.
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