As the final out was being recorded Monday evening in the Region 3-AAA semifinal game at the McKenzie Baseball Complex, a Bradley Central assistant coach bemoaned, “We picked the worst time to play our worst game of the year.”
Bear head coach Travis Adams echoed that sentiment, “We couldn’t hit anything. We didn’t make our breaks. We didn’t make things happen,” he said after the 5-0 defeat at the hands of District 6-AAA runner-up Cookeville.
“Hats off to their pitcher. He pitched right at us and we didn’t hit,” Coach Adams said of sophomore TJ Webb’s two-hit shutout effort. “We only got one guy in scoring position. If you don’t score, you’re not going to win.”
“Regardless of tonight, I’m very proud of these seniors,” he praised. “They have nothing to be ashamed off. They’ve had good careers and were able to get us back to this level (region).” The Bears’ last region tournament appearance was in Adams’ first year at the helm, 2008.
Bradley wraps up the 2014 campaign with a 21-12 record and the District 5-AAA championship plaque.
Coming off four days’ rest since claiming the district title in a 1-0 thriller over Soddy-Daisy, the Bears started a little slow, as ace Ty King gave up three first-inning hits, the last one on an 0-2 pitch for a two-out, RBI-single by 6-foot-7 junior Jacob Edgington.
After the next seven batters went down in order, Bradley got its first hit when senior Hunter Rogers led off the bottom of the second with a single to right field. However, back-to-back fielder’s choice groundouts and a backward K prevented a Bear base runner from reaching second base.
Cookeville picked up a solo run in the top of the fifth when Ben Shelton ripped a one-out single up the middle and James Paisley bounced the ball off the left-field wall for the game’s only extra base hit to put runners at second and third.
Shelton then wandered off base too far and Bradley tried to pick him off, but though he got involved in a rundown, Shelton was able to break for home to score.
The Cavaliers tacked on two more runs in the sixth when a hit batsman, a sacrifice bunt, a single and two Bear errors on the same play allowed one run to score, while Clay Talkington scored the second on a perfect squeeze bunt by Taylor Hall.
Senior Logan Blackwell led off the bottom of the fifth with a single for Bradley’s only other hit, but three strikeouts and a walk left him standing on second. The final seven Bears went down in order, the last two looking at called third strikes.
Now 28-8 on the season, Cookeville, which won the District 6-AAA regular season, but was upset by Warren County (17-22) in the tournament title game, will play host to Soddy-Daisy (21-16), a 12-2 winner over the Pioneers in McMinnville on Monday evening.
“It (playing Cookeville instead of Warren County) wasn’t the problem. We have to look at how we played (only one run in their last 14 innings),” Coach Adams said as he wrapped up his seventh season of coaching at his alma mater.
With just a pair of singles and a walk, Bradley left three runners on base in the contest.
The Bears graduate 10 seniors from this year’s team — Rogers, Blackwell, Caleb Pace, Jacob Barnes, Cal Pickel, Chandler Duggan, Baylor Terrell, Seth Lee, Jordan Timmons and Brett Standifer.
Cookeville 100 012 1 — 5 8 0
Bradley Central 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
WP: TJ Webb (6-1) 7 IP, 7 K’s, 1 BB, 2 hits, 0 ER; LP: Ty King (7-1) 5.1 IP, 2 K’s, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 6 hits, 2 ER. 2B: James Paisley (C); RBIs: Jacob Edgington, Taylor Hall, Ryan Julian (C). Highlights: Paisley 2-3, 2B, BB, 2 runs; Ben Shelton 2-4, run; Edgington 1-2, BB, HBP, RBI; Julian 1-3, RBI, HBP (C); Hunter Rogers 1-3, Logan Blackwell 1-3 BC). Records: Cookeville 28-8; Bradley Central 21-12.