“We just weren’t ready to play. We had no sense of urgency about us,” declared fifth-year head coach Travis Adams after an embarrassing 5-0 loss to previously winless McMinn County.
“They (McMinn) came out pumped up and chanting from their dugout from the beginning and we collapsed,” he remarked. “We committed five errors, gave up five unearned runs, left seven men on base and only had two hits. That says it all right there.”
The Bears (9-4-1) will need to regroup in a hurry as they head to Murfreesboro to battle a tough field in the Blackman Tournament, Thursday through Saturday.
Bradley will take on the host Blaze Thursday evening at 8, then turn right around for a doubleheader Friday morning — facing Arlington at 10 and Tullahoma at 12:30. The Bears will tangle with Centennial Saturday morning at 9.
Things started off rocky for Bradley Tuesday night as Matt Lingerfelt led off the game with a walk and after a sacrifice bunt moved him to second the first Bear error put runners on the corners.
Bradley starter Robbie Works responded to the first threat by striking out the next two batters to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the inning, Bradley leadoff batter Brently White was plunked to get on base but on a perfect hit-and-run, Dylan Johnston laced a sharp grounder headed for the hole created by the second baseman going to cover the bag on the steal, but the ball struck White for an out.
The Bears were able to get runners on the corners later in the frame, but the first of two Cherokee double plays on the night erased the threat.
The wheels came completely off in the top of the second for the home team when four bunts and a triple led to four unearned runs for the boys from Athens.
A high throw to first on the first bunt was the first Bear miscue. After a sac bunt moved the runner to second, a fielding error put runners on the corners again. The third bunt of the inning was beat out to load the bases before Lingerfelt ripped his second triple in as many nights, this one off the left-field wall.
James Daley then stepped into the box for the Cherokees and did what else? He was able to get his bat on a high pitch to drop down a perfect squeeze bunt to plate Lingerfelt.
One of the few Bear highlights on the night occurred in the next McMinn at bat when right fielder Jacob Maynard made a spectacular diving catch of a sinking line drive and then fired the ball to second to double off a base runner to end the inning.
The visitors were able to post the final run of the contest in the fifth inning when Lingerfelt led off with another bunt that was mishandled. After he was moved to second on the final of eight Cherokee bunts on the night, he came around to score when Corey Wade singled.
Although the Bear bats managed just two hits, they did get base runners thanks to a half dozen walks, including three straight in the bottom of the seventh, and a Cherokee error.
McMinn starter Matt James (1-2) surrendered just singles to Works and Johnston while striking out five in the complete-game effort.
Despite suffering his first loss, Works (2-1) lowered his ERA to 1.00 on the season by not giving up an earned run in four innings on the hill. He recorded four Ks, allowed three hits and gave up just the one walk.
Senior Jonathan Hodges came on for the fifth and sixth innings for the Bears, allowing just one hit, while junior Nate Mills gave up a walk in the seventh, but struck out the other three Cherokees he faced.
Bradley claimed victory in the junior varsity game when Caleb Pace laid down a squeeze bunt for the game winner in the bottom of the seventh.
Freshman Ty King had walked to open the final at bat before Tucker Maroon sacrificed him to second. After a wild pitch moved him to third, Pace laid down the game-winning bunt.
Pace went 2-for-3 in the contest, while Cal Pickel drove in a pair of runs with a hit. Chandler Duggan, who pitched the final two frames for the victory, and Jacob Barnes helped out with RBI-singles.
CHEROKEES 5, BEARS 0
McMinn County 040 010 0 — 5 4 1
Bradley Central 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
WP: Matt James (1-2) 7.0 IP, 5 Ks, 2 H, 6 BB, 0 ER. LP: Robbie Works (2-1) 4 IP, 4 K, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 ER. 3B: Matt Lingerfelt (MC). RBIs: Lingerfelt 3, James Daley, Corey Wade (MC). Records: McMinn County 1-9, 1-5 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 9-4-1, 1-3 District 5-AAA.