The fourth-seeded Eagles (12-7) scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to bolt to a 13-7 win over fifth-seeded Thomas Walker at Rye Cove.
Rye Cove advanced to the tournament semifinals to face Cumberland regular-season champion Eastside. The other semifinal game will feature No. 2-seeded Twin Springs taking on No. 3 seed J.I. Burton, which advanced with an 18-0 first-round win over Castlewood on Friday.
Rye Cove and Thomas Walker exchanged runs and the lead over the first four innings until the Eagles’ offensive explosion in the bottom of the fifth.
“We battled adversity the whole game. I guess we finally just opened up and the hits just got contagious. It was just one after another,” said Rye Cove senior Payton Qualls, who finished a career-best 5-for-5 at the plate — a double and four singles — with three RBIs.
Rye Cove had nine hits as a team in a game littered with errors and walks. The teams combined for nine errors, 16 walks and three hit batters.
“It was just crazy,” said Rye Cove senior Holton Carter, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Thomas Walker (6-13) scored twice in the first inning, one run in the second, one more in the third and two in the fourth. Rye Cove matched the Pioneers run for run in the first four innings.
In the top of the fifth, Caleb Yeary scored on two Rye Cove errors to give Thomas Walker a 7-6 lead.
But Rye Cove opened things up in the bottom half of the inning. The Eagles scored six runs on three hits — including a two-RBI double from Brian Pearcy — and three walks to build a 12-7 advantage.
“When we got up by just those first two runs, I knew then we were going to bust it open,” Carter said.
Rye Cove coach Michael Paul Berry also felt confident in his team’s chances after the big inning.
“I was real proud of the determination these guys showed tonight,” Berry said. “I knew that once we got the lead there in the fifth inning and knocked that door down, I knew we were going to win the ballgame.”
Thomas Walker coach Frank Brooks said giving up a big inning to the opposing team wasn’t a new experience for his squad.
“Unfortunately, that’s something that we’ve had a couple of this season. But I’m still proud of these guys. They went through every pitch and every inning and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Brooks said.
Peyton Redinger finished 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and four RBIs for Thomas Walker, and Josh Parsons went 3-for-3.