The Raiders were handed an opening game loss by McMinn County, which was able to come away with a 2-1 victory in front of its home crowd.
“This was probably one of the better days that we’ve had to open up the season in a long time. We played pretty good, but just had that one inning with a couple miscues and they got a couple hits. Overall though, I’d say we played well,” Cleveland head coach Ted Carson stated.
McMinn County came close to scoring in the bottom of the second, but base runner Jake Lingerfelt was tagged out by Cleveland catcher Hunter Oliver before he could make it to home plate.
The scoreboard remained empty until the bottom of the third, when the Cherokees were able to take advantage of the Raiders’ miscues.
A diving attempt to make a catch came up short for Cleveland, and then Corey Edgemon was able to make it to first base.
A follow-up bunt by Colby Eaton resulted in slight confusion for the Raiders, and in the midst of the confusion Edgemon was able to make it all the way home for the first run of the inning.
With one runner on first, the next two Cherokees were walked, loading up the bases with no outs.
Junior pitcher Austin Dykes was able to strike out the next batter and then a catch in right field brought it to two outs with the bases still loaded.
A hard drive to centerfield by Lingerfelt was enough to bring in another Cherokee runner.
With the bases still loaded, another hit to center field was caught, bringing the inning to a close.
The game stayed 2-0 in favor of the home team for the next three innings, until the Raiders were able make it a one-run ball game.
Koltyn Plumb got the top of the sixth started off with a double from a deep hit to left field and then Taylor Thompson followed things up with a hit of his own, which gave Cleveland runners on first and third base.
Oliver was able to drive Plumb in for the Raiders’ lone run, while Thompson was called out at second.
The next two Cleveland batters were unable to drive in the tying run, and the remainder of the game was a duel of both pitching and defense.
“If you give up two runs, you’ve got to score to make up for that. Out pitchers did a good job and there were some good defensive plays, but it just came down to that one inning,” Carson explained.
Dykes struck out four batters during his time on the mound and senior pitcher Colin Tippitt came on in the bottom of the fifth and was able to strike out two batters.
The Raiders will host the Cherokees today at 7 p.m. with pitcher Taylor Thompson getting the nod to start from Coach Carson.
BLUE RAIDERS 1
Cleveland 000 001 0 — 1 3 3
McMinn 002 000 x — 2 5 2
WP: Jake White (1-0) LP: Austin Dykes (0-1) 2B: Koltyn Plumb (C). Other highlights: Hunter Oliver RBI, Plumb run, Lingerfelt RBI (MC) Records: Cleveland 0-1, 0-1 District 5-AAA; McMinn 1-0, 1-0.