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South, Crockett, East stage ambushes in district baseball tourney

Bill Lane • May 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — It wasn’t the kind of quarterfinal round that the higher-seeded teams anticipated Saturday in the District 1-AAA baseball tournament.

The Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds were ousted from contention while only defending champion and No. 1 seed Science Hill escaped ambush.

Not even a long rain delay, threatening skies and an injury to one of the umpires could dampen the enthusiasm of winning teams on the first full day of competition.

Sullivan South, David Crockett, Sullivan East and Science Hill are in. Daniel Boone, Dobyns-Bennett, Tennessee High and host Sullivan Central joined Friday’s loser, Volunteer, on the mothball list.

South (18-10) defeated Dobyns-Bennett 5-1 on Tristan Archer’s dominant pitching. The senior right-hander eliminated the Indians for the second straight year, this time with a three-hit, eight-strikeout performance.

Crockett (17-14) upset Tennessee High 6-5 as Brandon Massey did some strong clutch pitching and Jacob Berry and Clint Freeman hit home runs. The mound victim was fireballing Jon Krebs, who had beaten the Pioneers twice this season.

East (14-13) surprised Daniel Boone 11-7 with Kevin Love driving in five runs and Hunter Smith accounting for four RBIs. Love and Smith each homered. Left-hander Des Greer beat the Trailblazers for the second time this year.

Heavily favored Science Hill (21-11), a state title contender the last two years, won over Central 4-2 in the late-ending nightcap.

Sophomore Daniel Norris pitched a one-hitter and struck out 16 for the Hilltoppers, who were trailing 1-0 when Andrew Sims’ two-run double keyed a four-run burst in the fifth inning.

Matt Harmon and Cody Hyden combined efforts on the mound for the Cougars, whose only hit was a triple by Holden Moles.

In today’s semifinals, South faces Science Hill at 2 p.m. and East meets Crockett at 4:30 p.m. as the tourney enters its double-elimination stage.

South plated all five of its runs in the fourth when D-B starter Dylan Harvey lost his control. In that inning, he walked five batters. Harvey had been locked in a tight pitching duel with Archer (8-1), who was unyielding to the end.

“Wow! That was awesome,’’ South coach Anthony Richardson said of Archer’s performance. “If you get on Tristan early, you may have a chance. Still, I don’t think he was throwing his best stuff today.

“We scored enough runs to win — it’s all that counts. With single elimination in effect, the first game is scary. It’s always competitive between D-B and us.’’

Richardson felt Aaron St. Clair’s double during the five-run uprising was an unsettling factor for Harvey.

“He is a great kid but I think that hit rattled him a little,’’ the coach observed.

Archer dodged a bullet in the first inning. Jamie Crawford’s ground-rule double would have scored Sean Seabolt had it not bounced over the fence. As it turned out, South escaped the inning without giving up a run.

“If D-B had scored then, it might have been a different game,’’ Archer said. “I think that took a little out of (the Indians).

“It’s always great to beat D-B. I have friends over there who are always telling me they’re going to beat us. I just let them talk.’’

D-B coach Mike Ritz described Archer as being in a class of his own.

“There’s nobody around here close to him,’’ he said. “When you get a chance to score against a good pitcher, you’d better take advantage of it.

“The fifth inning beat us. That was the ballgame,” Ritz added. “We walked too many batters. I hate it that we lost but I’m pleased with the progress our kids have made. Six of our eight seniors are going to play at the next level, and they’re going to be good citizens.’’

Ritz, the state’s all-time winningest baseball coach with 876 victories, completed his 38th year in the dugout.

Crockett notched its second high-profile win of the season.

“Our first big one was beating Bearden,’’ coach Scott Hagy said. “This is the third time we’ve faced Krebs and we got him in the district tournament. Boodle Clark did the same thing to us several years ago, then we beat him.

“I’m extremely proud of Massey for the way he battled. We’re tickled to death to be playing (today). We’re quite capable of being a good team — we just don’t know it yet.’’

Berry, whose solo homer in the sixth inning sealed the win, said: “We knew what Krebs had and we jumped on him.’’

With Crockett batting in the fourth, veteran plate umpire John Conley of Jonesborough was decked by a foul tip. The ball struck his facemask a glancing blow. He was taken to a Bristol hospital for observation.

Conley also was injured by a pitched ball two weeks ago in a Crockett game.

East stunned Boone with a 12-hit attack against the Connell brothers, Kevin and Cody.

“It’s a cruel way to end,’’ Boone coach Rob Hoover said. “We weren’t at our best today. I thought we had the team to go on down the road. I’m disappointed. Everybody on this team had a role to play. It’s the best chemistry we’ve ever had, and that’s why we won so many games.’’

East’s six-run flurry in the fifth was decisive.

“Once momentum starts,’’ Hoover said, “it’s like a snowball going downhill. You can’t stop it.’’

Alex Reynolds went 3-for-3 and Caleb Dishner 2-for-4. These were more than half Boone’s hits.

Mike Breuninger, East’s coach, said it was a game that could have gone either way and he gave Greer a pat on the back.

“Des has been a competitor all year,” Breuninger said. “He brings energy to this team. We’d talked a lot about our hitting slacking off and we concentrated on that in preparation for the tournament.’’

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