KINGSPORT - Tuesday was a pretty day for baseball at Sullivan North, even if the baseball wasn't always as pretty as the weather.
After a convincing late rally by J.J. Kelly, Sullivan North made the plays in the end to seal a 15-13 non-conference victory over the visiting Indians.
"This is a good way for us to start the season. They're a good ballclub. They've got a real good chance of winning a state championship over there," said North coach Steve Dixon, whose squad opened the season with a 5-2 Watauga Conference win over South Greene on Monday.
Despite committing nine costly errors, Kelly (0-1) exhibited its inherent offensive explosiveness when it trimmed North's lead to three during a six-run rally in the sixth inning.
The Indians touched North reliever Greg Overbay with five hits, including an RBI double by Cody Bentley, a bases-clearing triple by Chris Johnson, an RBI single by Aaron Gardner and a timely sacrifice fly by Zak Sturgill.
Bentley kept the light on for the Indians with his final 1 1-3 innings of relief work.
He came on for Blake McClellan in the fifth inning and Kelly was able to add a couple runs thanks to an error at shortstop, Kory Morgan's RBI single and Bentley's wild pitch.
But Bentley held the fort in the sixth, whiffing North leadoff and No. 2 batters Overbay and Clay Colley. Two errors at second base later, Bentley redeemed his defense by putting a glove on Nick Moore's line drive to end the inning.
"We swung the bats and did a decent job throwing strikes. But we've got to make the routine plays," said J.J. Kelly coach Dave Wyrick, whose squad's four first-inning errors helped saddle starter Justin Wilson (0-1) with the loss.
North jumped to a 9-2 lead that inning on nine runs - eight of which were unearned.
The Raiders, meanwhile, committed only two errors and performed like a well-oiled machine in the final frame. Overbay let his defense back him up and he retired the side.
"We were worried about (Kelly's rally), but we had the confidence to come back out here and shut them down," said North shortstop Brandon Morelock, who missed five weeks due to injury last season.
Sturgill had a busy day in the Kelly lineup, going 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs. Johnson finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs while Matt Dotson went 2-for-4 with a double and Will Strength was 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. Devan Sproles also had a couple of hits.
"These kids have a lot of heart and they're not going to quit," Wyrick said. "They thought they were going to win it in the last inning. If they keep that approach, they'll be all right."
Overbay went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and Morelock was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for North. Morgan collected a pair of hits, while Matt Summey stroked a double.
"We just hit the ball well up and down the lineup," Dixon said. "We're a whole different team. We're so much better than we were last year, we won't even make comparisons."