KINGSPORT — The Coca-Cola Classic baseball championship will be decided today.
Three games are scheduled at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. The semifinals will pit Dobyns-Bennett against Tennessee High at noon and Sullivan South against Science Hill at 2:30. Winners will meet at 5 for the title.
Austin Palmer found himself under the spotlight Friday night and performed like a veteran in his first varsity pitching start for Gate City.
Palmer, a sophomore right-hander, hurled five innings of one-hit baseball in a 4-2 victory over Volunteer.
Working the strike zone and changing speeds, he had a perfect game for 3 2-3 innings. Nathan Brown, after one reliever ran into trouble, buttoned down Palmer’s win with a save.
“Austin isn’t overpowering but he keeps the ball low and hits the spots,’’ Gate City coach Darren Reed said. “He gave us five strong innings.’’
Wes Hughes provided power at the plate with a two-run, 375-foot triple and a double.
“He is getting into form,’’ Reed said. “Wes is coming on with the bat. He knows his role and has done well in this tournament.’’
Also contributing big to Gate City’s 10-hit attack were Dusty Clark and Hunter Watts. Clark doubled and singled while Watts had a pair of singles.
The Blue Devils scored one run on an error and Derick Miller had a run-scoring single.
“Playing in the tournament has been good for us,’’ Reed said. “We’ve seen a lot of curveballs and that’s something our players wouldn’t get on the pitching machine or from coaches throwing batting practice.’’
Gate City (3-2), Virginia’s Group A runner-up in 2009, will play Sullivan East in a consolation bracket game at 2:30 p.m. today in Bristol. Volunteer (2-8) will take on Unicoi County in a 2:30 matchup in Johnson City.
“That’s a good team we faced,’’ Volunteer coach Daris Green said of the Blue Devils. “I’m glad we were able to hold them to four runs.’’
Green is looking for some consistency.
“When we have good pitching, we don’t hit the ball. When we do hit, the pitching isn’t there,’’ he said.
He pointed to two instances in which Volunteer could have cashed in and won the game. Christian Green legged out an infield hit and stole second base in the fourth inning but was stranded. The Falcons had the bases loaded with nobody out in the sixth and managed just one run — on Green’s sacrifice fly.
Volunteer scored in the fifth when Jake Greer walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and trotted home on a balk.