|Published: 11:39 AM, 06/05/2013
||Last updated: 11:40 AM, 06/05/2013
Author: Gabriel Garcia
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
MADISONVILLE - This one hurt.
Sequoyah baseball's 2013 campaign was a landmark in several ways - first-ever perfect District 5-AA record, tying the most wins overall in program history and the first-ever region title in any sport - but it ended in the same manner as in 2012, in the Class AA sectional round, one win short of a berth in the state tournament.
Except this one may have been even worse because this time the bitter end came at home, with Murfreesboro Central Magnet celebrating Saturday on Tim Leonard Field after handing the Chiefs the 5-3 loss.
"Not a whole lot of words," said Sequoyah coach Adam Kefauver, whose team finishes with a 27-8 overall record. "Right there is the toughest scenario you can possibly go through to end the season. Watch a team dogpile on your own field to go to the state tournament. It hurts.
"You try to focus ... don't let this game define your season, but it's hard not to when you're one game away from the state tournament."
The Chiefs got on the scoreboard first, with Caleb Miner's base hit past the Central second baseman scoring Jake Johnson, who had put himself in scoring position the at-bat before with a two-out double past the center fielderвЂ™s glove.
The Tigers' Josh Green smacked an RBI single to knot it in the second inning, and Central took its first lead in the third off Austin WorleyвЂ™s sacrifice bunt.
Sequoyah countered in the bottom of the third, with Alex Stakely and Garrett Dalton starting with back-to-back doubles for the 2-2 tie. Tigers starting pitcher Will Norfleet balked to give Dalton a free base, and JohnsonвЂ™s second hit of the day, a single to left field, gave the Chiefs back the lead at 3-2.
Central evened it back up in the fourth when Sequoyah starter Dustin Moser's two consecutive wild pitches advanced a runner from first to third. The score came off a sacrifice grounder from Norfleet.
The Tigers brought left-handed ace Alex Ropp to the mound in the bottom of the fourth, and the Chiefs' offensive ended with an unfortunate line drive to the first baseman followed by a step on the bag for the double play.
To counter, Sequoyah activated its own ace, Forrest McKane, in the top of the fifth. But Central scored the go-ahead run off a Colt Flippo single.
McKane faced the prospect of Central blowing the game open in the top of the sixth inning, with the Tigers loading the bases with only one out and still in their first four in the batting order.
Central's fifth run came on a passed ball with those bags loaded. A second passed ball threatened to score another run, but Miner recovered and hustled to tag out Green before he could cross the plate.
McKane walked the next two batters to again load the bases for Central, but he forced cleanup hitter Worley to fly out to contain the damage to one run.
"SequoyahвЂ™s got a great ball club. They threw it well," said Central coach Buddy Powers. "We got a couple timely hits right there, and thatвЂ™s the difference in the ball game."
And McKane retired the Tigers in order in the top of the seventh to keep his Chiefs within two runs, within sight of a plausible comeback.
"He did a good job," Kefauver said of McKane, who took the loss in his last game for the Chiefs. "He got his stuff, fought and dug deep. He gave it everything he had."
But Ropp (W) never let Sequoyah get its bats cracking again, going 1-2-3 against Chiefs batters the last three innings to end their season.
"He really kept the ball down in the zone and worked ahead in the count," Kefauver said of Ropp. "That's something we try to utilize. Making the pitcher really work and being tough and fouling the ball off and getting in good counts, and he didn't let us do that. We got in 0-2 counts almost every time"
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