KINGSPORT — South Doyle center fielder Hamilton Cobb took a home run away from Dobyns-Bennett’s Stephanie Ashe in the fourth inning of their championship bracket contest in the Eastman Invitational on Saturday night.
As it turned out, the Cherokees stole from the wrong girl.
With the game tied at 2 in the final inning, Ashe slapped a double down the right field line, scrambled to third base on a passed ball and scored the winning run on Lauren Denton’s sacrifice fly.
The 3-2 victory sent D-B to the quarterfinals — which will have a distinctly District 1 flavor. Daniel Boone, Volunteer, Science Hill and Unicoi County all advanced as well.
“(Stephanie) tries so hard,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “Sometimes she tries too hard, but that’s a good problem to have.”
The Lady Indians led 1-0 before giving up a pair of unearned runs with two outs in the top of the fourth.
Ashe nearly tied it up in the bottom of the frame when she drilled a pitch deep to center, but Cobb caught the ball before crashing through the temporary fence to preserve the 2-1 lead.
With the time limit looming, Makenzie Lilley knocked a two-out single through the left side of the infield, bringing home Emily Anderson to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, South Doyle’s Jade Whitt led off with a double and moved to third on a bunt. The Cherokees rolled the dice on a suicide squeeze, but the bunt got back to Lilley quick enough for her to start the 1-2-6 double play that ended the threat.
“I’d like to say we worked on that,” Hubbard joked, “but we haven’t gotten that far yet.”
The count was full in the bottom of the inning when Ashe slapped the slicing line drive down the right side of the infield. The ball kicked up some chalk before before burrowing into the right field corner. Moments later, Ashe scored on Denton’s sac fly and the Lady Indians (19-6) were moving on.
Elsewhere, Volunteer came from behind twice Saturday just to survive pool play.
The Lady Falcons used a well-timed suicide squeeze in the fifth inning against Watauga to escape with a 4-3 win. Later, a two-run double by Rose Lawson in the bottom of the sixth gave Volunteer (11-6) a 6-5 victory over Oak Ridge.
A 5-4 win over Cocke County at the end of the day allowed the Lady Falcons to advance. After entering the tournament with a 6-6 record, the surging Lady Falcons now have won five in a row.
“We’ve been struggling coming in, but now we’re coming together as a team,” Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said. “Now we’ve got to keep it going.”
After throwing a perfect game Friday night, Daniel Boone’s Cora Baker was sidelined with a sprained ankle on Saturday. Sophomore teammate Kellie Waycaster subsequently stepped into the circle and took a perfect game of her own into the sixth inning during morning play.
A walk in the sixth ended Boone’s bid for back-to-back perfect games, but Waycaster settled for a no-hitter and a 5-0 win over Rockwood.
Waycaster took another no hitter into the final inning against Knox Central in championship bracket play but ended with a one-hitter in an 8-0 victory.
“She hasn’t thrown this much all year,” Boone coach Rick Wagner said of Waycaster. “For her to step in and throw three games for us in one day, she’s our future, no doubt.”
The tournament continues this morning. Boone (12-3) faces Morristown East, Volunteer plays Marion County, D-B takes on Lafayette and Science Hill tangles with Unicoi County.
All quarterfinal games are slated to start at 10 and will be played at the Eastman fields. The championship game will start about 2 p.m.