|Published: 11:26 AM, 06/05/2013
||Last updated: 11:27 AM, 06/05/2013
Author: Gabriel Garcia
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
MADISONVILLE вЂ” The Sequoyah Chiefs wouldn't have long to bask in a milestone accomplishment for the entire athletics program, let alone in baseball.
Sequoyah stymied a furious rally from East Hamilton Wednesday at Tim Leonard Field, winning 11-7 to capture the Region 3-AA championship вЂ” the schoolвЂ™s first region title in any sport.
"WeвЂ™re going to celebrate this for a day, but then itвЂ™s back to business for substate," said Chiefs coach Adam Kefauver. "Our ultimate goal is to make the state tournament."
Sequoyah will play for a shot at that goal at 2 p.m. Saturday, hosting Region 4-AA runner-up Murfreesboro Central Magnet in the Class AA sectional round.
If the Chiefs needed any reminder to stay focused during a postseason in which a bounce of the ball can change games drastically, they got it when the Ooltewah-based District 6-AA champions fought back from the verge of being run-ruled to sincerely threaten to steal the win.
Sequoyah had led 10-0 after the second inning вЂ” an advantage good enough for a short day had it held for three more frames. Starting pitcher Jake Johnson (W) threw the first four innings, gave up four hits and left the mound with the Chiefs ahead 11-3.
Rhyan Johnson, a freshman, took over in the top of the fifth and got two strikeouts as he put the Hurricanes out in order. But East Hamilton countered by putting Ethan Hollingshead on the mound, and the sophomore's off-speed pitches confounded the Chiefs to the tune of three strikeouts, preventing them from scoring the two runs needed to end the game early.
And thatвЂ™s when the Hurricanes woke up.
Austin Gatewood got the top of the sixth started for the 'Canes with a base hit and advanced to second on a fielding error in the outfield. After the next batter drew a walk, Hunter Owen sent Gatewood home with a single to left field.
This ended Rhyan Johnson's time at pitcher and brought over Garrett Dalton. But Landon Pauls drew a walk to load the bases, and after a strikeout, Tanner Ungos sent home another run with a double over the right fielder.
However, Sequoyah catcher Caleb Miner managed to get the inning's second out by tagging Owen out as he slid toward home to try scoring the second run off UngosвЂ™ double.
But 'Canes No. 9 hitter Matt Milita scored two more with a double that landed neatly inside of the right foul line, and just like that East Hamilton had pulled to 11-7, cutting SequoyahвЂ™s lead in half and ending any hopes of a run-rule.
Dalton hesitated to throw on the next short grounder, the error ptuing runners at the corners, but he finally ended the top of the sixth the next at-bat by forcing a flyout to left field.
Hollingshead kept the Chiefs from getting any insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, only giving up an infield single to Alex Stakely while keeping them off balance with his curves and changeups.
But Dalton did not let the 'Canes continue their momentum when he returned to the mound. After drawing a lead-off walk, he fanned the next two and forced a lineout to Dustin Moser at second base to end the game.
Josh Watson had gotten Sequoyah started in the first inning with a three-run blast over the left fence.
Then Moser led off the second inning with a solo shot of his own, starting a seven-run scoring binge that saw the Chiefs cycling through their entire order. Stakely dropped a single in front of the East Hamilton left fielder, then stole second before the first pitch to Dalton. Dalton then ushered Stakely home with his double on the right foul line.
That put an early end to the day for 'Canes starter Connor Sadro (L) and brought on Andrew Thompson for the first of East Hamilton's four pitching changes.
Dalton scored when Thompson misfired to first on a pickoff attempt on Micah McCrary, who reached on a fielding error by the shortstop. Jake Johnson then singled, and MinerвЂ™s sacrifice fly scored another after.
Watson got on base with a line drive past shortstop, and then Forrest McKane put three more on the board with his long ball over right center, SequoyahвЂ™s third homer of the game.
The 'Canes scored three runs over the next two innings, and McKane's single in the fourth inning gave Sequoyah its 11th run. The Chiefs threatened a lot more, loading the bases with nobody out, but East Hamilton sped Hunter Smith to the mound, who fanned the next two batters and forced a grounder to keep Sequoyah from sending the game back into run-rule territory.
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