no avatar

Chiefs block Falcon rally, take 7-5 win

BILL LANE • Apr 22, 2007 at 1:15 AM

ROGERSVILLE - When Cherokee and Volunteer line up to play any sport, the outcome leaves the winner on cloud nine and the loser hanging its head.

"It feels great beating Volunteer,'' Cherokee pitcher/outfielder Ethan Blair said Saturday night after the Chiefs dealt the Falcons a 7-5 baseball loss.

Blair did his part by homering and doubling to drive in two runs.

"It's tough losing to Cherokee,'' Volunteer shortstop Matt Fleenor said.

Fleenor staked the Falcons to an early 1-0 lead with a home run and drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run during an eleventh-hour rally.

Cherokee atoned for its 7-4, early-season defeat at the hands of Volunteer.

Several hundred sun-splashed fans got their money's worth in Part II of the Battle of Hawkins County.

"God loves baseball,'' Chiefs coach Kevin Helton said. "He gave us good weather for this.''

Helton platooned his pitchers on senior night.

Blair, Darren Haun, Trey McMillan and Chase Quarles shared the seven-inning assignment. Just when the Falcons seemed to be getting used to one, Cherokee would bring in another for a different look.

"Every time I've been a part of a game in which pitchers were utilized like that, it's been effective,'' Falcons coach Travis Free said. "It seems to work out better on Saturday after the entire staff has seen action during the week.''

Cherokee outhit Volunteer 10-6 but made the playing field level with enough errors to compensate.

Free tipped his cap to the Chiefs.

"Cherokee hit, pitched and defended a little better than we did,'' he said. "We couldn't get in a groove because of the platooning.

"Offensively, we're struggling a bit," Free noted. "I don't know if we're tired or what. It has been a long week.''

Volunteer divided its innings among three pitchers, but two appeared in bail-out situations.

Fleenor, jumping on a first-pitch fastball in the opening inning, drew first blood with his second homer in as many nights.

"I thought that might create momentum,'' the senior infielder said, "but it didn't carry over as much as I had hoped.''

Cherokee (9-10) moved ahead 4-1, then 7-2. Volunteer (10-12) rallied furiously in the final inning, scoring twice and leaving the bases loaded.

Quarles was just the guy Helton wanted on the mound to quell the threat.

"Chase has the mentality of a closer,'' the coach said. "Volunteer made a strong charge and just kept coming.''

Quarles ended the game with a strikeout after Cody Byington walked, Dylan Frazier singled, Ethan Pearcy walked, Aaron Bennett singled and Fleenor got a run-forcing walk.

"You can't win a game with just one inning,'' Fleenor said. "You've got to put together all seven.''

Even though Quarles led the Chiefs by going 3-for-4, it was Blair's bat that sounded the loudest for his team.

He doubled home Cherokee's first run to set the tone for a four-run uprising in the second inning and belted a solo homer to ignite a three-run burst in the fourth.

"(The pitcher) hung a curve on a 1-1 pitch when I doubled,'' Blair said. "I got the homer on a belt-high pitch just a little outside.''

Blair is getting results because of a change in his swing.

"He's shortened his stroke,'' Helton noted. "Ethan is seeing the ball and hitting it better. He hit a homer in each of the last two games.''

Seven seniors appeared in the game for Cherokee and three pitched.

Recommended for You