Polk fell into a hole, climbed out but then fell back in, suffering its first District 5-AA loss of the season by a 4-3 margin at the school’s baseball complex.
Meigs put three runs on the scoreboard before the second out of the game was recorded but the host Wildcats clawed back to even the score in the bottom of the third before the Tigers “squeezed” out the game-winner in the top of the seventh to earn a split of the home-and-home series.
“They (Meigs) did the things they needed to do at the end to win and we didn’t,” expressed exasperated Wildcat coach Michael Carter after the loss. “We left guys on base early on. Those runs early in the game are just as important as later on. You’re not going to win many high school games by just scoring three runs.
“Our offense shut down in the final four innings, like it had done during the first six innings yesterday,” he said in reference to Tuesday’s 6-2 Wildcat win over the Tigers in Decatur. Polk pulled out that victory by scoring all of its runs in its final at bat. The Wildcats managed just one hit and a total of three base runners in the final four frames Wednesday.
“Give Meigs credit, they did what they needed to do,” coach Carter commented. “We, on the other hand, didn’t do what we needed to do. We didn’t make good adjustments at the plate. We have got to do a better job of playing a complete seven innings.”
Polk was scheduled to travel to Tellico Plains today and Ooltewah tomorrow evening, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that. Today’s rains could also put Saturday morning’s matchup against Bradley Central in jeopardy.
“Depending on how much rain we get we may not be able to host Bradley Saturday,” coach Carter related. “Our field is already soaked and adding more rain may make it unplayable for Saturday.”
Meigs County (7-2-1, 1-1 District 5-AA) opened Wednesday’s contest with a bang, scoring three runs with four singles, a hit batsman and a Wildcat error allowing six of its first seven batters to reach base.
A pair of great defensive plays by the Wildcats prevented any further runs by the visitors. Polk catcher Matt Hammons made a diving catch on a short pop-up in foul territory for the first out of the game and then blocked the plate after a bullet throw from right fielder Justin Brown to gun down a Tiger runner trying to score for the second out.
Hammons also keyed the Wildcat response in the bottom of the opening frame with a two-out double which scored Brown, who had singled. Reno Wimberley came on as a courtesy runner for Hammons and came around to score when Andrew Aldridge made it back-to-back two-baggers.
Polk (8-8-1, 3-1) was able to even the score in the bottom of the third when Duncan Coffey ripped a one-out single and advanced when Hammons was hit with a pitch and Aldridge drew a walk. Coffey was able to beat the throw home after a sacrifice fly to short right field by Carter Flowers.
Although both teams had at least one base runner in each of the next three innings, it wasn’t until the top of the seventh with the game’s final run would scored.
Meigs County’s Tyler Fugate led off the top of the seventh with a solid single to left. After a walk moved him to second and a passed ball to third, Dustin Kennedy laid down a perfect bunt on a squeeze play and then beat the throw to first for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.
Polk was able to prevent any more damage as Brown, who came on in relief before the successful bunt, got the first out on a failed squeeze bunt attempt before striking out the next two batters.
The Wildcats, who had left seven runners on base in the first six innings, went down in order in the bottom of the seventh. Flowers was Polk’s starting pitcher and got tagged with the loss despite a good outing that saw him strike out five and issue four free passes, while scattering seven singles.
Austin Goforth ran his pitching record to 3-0 with three innings of one-hit, shutout relief to pick up the victory for the Tigers.
Meigs County 300 000 1 — 4 8 0
Polk County 201 000 0 — 3 6 1
WP: Austin Goforth (3-0) 3 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 hit, 0 R. LP: Carter Flowers 6 IP, 5 Ks, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 7 hits, 3 ER. 2B: Hunter Carter, Matt Hammons, Andrew Aldridge (PC). RBI: J. Hurt 2, J. Kennedy, D. Kennedy (MC); Hammons, Aldridge, Flowers (PC). Highlights: Chris Thompson 2-3 (MC); Hammons 2-3, HBP, 2B, RBI, run (PC). Records: Meigs County 7-2-1, 1-1 District 5-AA; Polk County 8-8-1, 3-1 District 5-AA.