Second-seeded Walker Valley bounced back from Thursday's upset at the hands of the last-place Soddy-Daisy squad to remain alive in the double-elimination event with a 4-2 win over No. 6 seed McMinn County.
Bradley Central, the event's third seed, fell victim to the hosts' strong run in a 10-5 extra-inning loss to the Trojans. the loss meant the Bears joined fellow Bradley County squads from Walker Valley and Cleveland High in the tournament's elimination bracket.
Saturday's schedule has been shifted to today, weather permitting. Bradley (20-12) will look to stay alive with a 1 p.m. game against fifth-seeded Rhea County (10-15) before walker Valley (19-14) will battle Cleveland (15-19) as slated at 4. The two remaining unbeaten teams in the event --- No. 1 seed Ooltewah (20-11) and surprise seventh-seeded Soddy-Daisy (10-21) --- hope to play at 7 this evening in the winner's bracket final with a Region 3-AAA Tournament berth on the line.
Should the rains continue today and Monday, the schedule will be adjusted accordingly. According to the TSSAA, the two teams advancing to region play must be determined by Friday. Region play opens May 13.
Despite just five wins in 30 games this season, McMinn County served notice quickly that they would not go quietly, scoring twice in the game's opening at bat.
Four of the first five Cherokee batters reached base with a pair of walks, plus a double by Jay Odom and a dingle from Corey Wade to drive in Corey Edgemon and Javon Simpson, who each drew a free pass.
The Mustangs didn't stay in the hole long as junior Logan Melton and senior Caleb Longley oped the bottom of the first with back to back singles. Junior John Simmons then drew a one out walk to load the bases. Lincoln Memorial signee Drew Lyles followed with a bullet the McMinn third baseman snagged, tagged the base for a out but then made a throwing error allowing Menton and Simmons to come home to even the score.
"That was a big answer there in the bottom of the first," declared Mustang head coach Joe Shamblin. "We got behind but our kids responed well."
Senior lefty Chase Prince took over the mound for Walker Valley in the top of the second and set the Tribe down in order before leading off the bottom half of the frame by being hit with a pitch to start a second two-run Mustang rally.
After Prince got "plunked," Bradley Smith followed with an infield single but was then erased on a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners with junior Elijah Haynie on first base.
With the left-handed hitting Melton a the dish, Shamblin sent Haynie from first and then the catcher's throw went to second base, Prince took all four home on the successful double steal. Longley followed with his second hit in as many trips to the plate to drive in Haynie with what turned out to be the games final run.
"I felt better after that (the second inning runs), but it was still a tight game the rest of the way," remarked coach Shamblin.
Prince struck out the first two batter in the top of the third before Odom beat out an infield hit and Simpson blooped a little flare into short right field. The Tribe threat ended when the next batter grounded to Longley at first base.
After setting down the next five McMinn batters, Prince gave up a two-out single to Tyler Biddle but then struck out the next batter to end the top of the fifth.
McMinn made a serious run in the top of the sixth, getting the bases loaded with nobody out, but junior Kamren Barnes bounced back from walking the first batter he faced with two straight strike outs and a fly ball to center to quell the uprising.
After a bunt single got the leadoff man on for McMinn the game's final at bat, Barnes got another fly ball center and closed out the save with back-to-back Ks.
The four Mustang runs in its first two at bats, plus a double by Barnes to open the bottom of the third, chased the Cherokee starter, but Jake White came on in relief and got out the first 10 batters he faced, giving up a one out double to Lyles in the sixth as the lone base runner he allowed.
TROJANS 10, BEARS 5
A night after upsetting No. 2 Walker Valley, Soddy-Daisy scored the final seven runs of an eighth-inning affair with third-seeded Bradley.
The Bears scored solo runs in the first and third when seniors Caleb Pippenger and Jacob Maynard plated temmate Brently White and Logan Blackwell with a sacrifice fly and a single respectively.
Both teams put up a 3-spot in the fourth frame with Bradley getting consecutive hits from juniors Jacob Barnes, Cal Pickel, Baylor Terrell and Blackwell, the latter of which drove in a pair of runs. Terrell's single drove in the other run.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the hosts picked up an unearned run in the sixth on a two-out error and then tied the game in the seventh when a leadoff walk came back to haunt the Bears, forcing the extra frame.
Although playing on their home field, Soddyy-Daisy was in the visitor's role on the scoreboard and exploded for five runs in the top of the eighth inning. After the lead-off batter popped out on the first pitch of the at bat, the next six Trojans came climbing out of the "wooden horse," with the first run driven on a bases-loaded "plunk," followed by two-run hits by clean-up hitter Caden Ricketts and Christian Amos, who helped his own pitching cause. The Trojan righty struck out a half dozed and allowed just one Bear hit over the final four innings of a complete-game effort.
Bradley was able to get a pair of base runners int he bottom of the eighth when senior Ryan Blair was hit by a pitch, and Pickel laced his second hit of the night. But neither got past second base. the Bears stranded seven base runners in the contest, including two each in their final two at bats.