GRAY — There’s no better place to produce eye-catching statistics than in the District 1-AAA baseball tournament.
David Crockett’s Clint Freeman and Science Hill’s Daniel Norris, a pair of gifted left-handers, had exceptional opening-round performances Saturday.
Freeman, whose fastball has been clocked at 89 mph, struck out 20 batters in a 6-2 victory over Daniel Boone. He fanned the side in five separate innings.
Norris, who struck out five in the only two innings he pitched, drove in eight runs with three singles and a triple as Science Hill defeated Volunteer 16-0.
In other games, Dobyns-Bennett beat Sullivan South 10-8 and Tennessee High outlasted Sullivan Central 8-5.
Science Hill (24-12) plays Dobyns-Bennett (21-12) at 2 p.m and Tennessee High (28-5) goes against Crockett (20-11) at 4:30 in today’s semifinals. The tourney has entered a double-elimination phase.
Freeman, an East Tennessee State University signee, outdueled Trailblazers ace Kevin Connell. After giving up a first-inning home run to Connell, Freeman was in charge of the game.
“The adrenaline was pumping,’’ Freeman said. “I didn’t even look at the scoreboard but twice. I worked fast and didn’t give (the Trailblazers) time to think.’’
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Freeman has given up only five runs in the last 32 innings.
“That might have been the best game I’ve ever seen him pitch,’’ Crockett coach Scott Hagy said. “Clint was in a big setting going against our archrival. He was on his game and not laboring at all. He wanted to pitch this one.’’
Boone coach Rob Hoover agreed that Freeman competed at a high level.
“He definitely overpowered us. He was a different pitcher than we saw before. We were overmatched,” Hoover said. “He threw any pitch, any time on any count. He had plenty of velocity and made us look silly with some off-speed stuff.’’
Norris was pulled by Science Hill after two frames to preserve his arm.
“It’s really good to win and get to the second round,’’ he said. “I’ve been working on my mechanics. I got my command back. I felt comfortable at the plate.’’
He threw only 34 pitches.
“This just helps us to bring him back sooner,’’ Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “He’ll pitch when we get in a situation where we need him.’’
Volunteer coach Daris Green told his players: “When you’re 25 or 30 years old and see Norris pitching on TV, you can say you batted off him.’’
It was not the way Green wanted the season to end but he gave his players a passing grade on attitude and improvement. “We made a little name for ourselves in the Big 8 Conference.’’
Nathan Millsap’s eighth homer of the year, a three-run shot in the fourth inning, carried D-B to its third straight win over South.
“This was the first time we’ve won a first-round game since I’ve been at D-B,’’ Millsap said. “This was big for me.’’
South had a couple of long homers by Reid Mathews and Ryan Lockhart.
“We left too many runners on base,’’ Rebels coach Anthony Richardson said. “That’s the way it’s been all year.
“This game was just a moment in time and we’ll go on to the next one. These players have been through a lot and grown up some.’’
D-B coach Mike Ritz said: “I don’t know how we won. We walked so many batters.’’
Tribe pitcher Kyle Brandon finished 3-0 against South this year.
Tennessee High’s Gill Payne notched his 500th coaching win as the Vikings got their 28th victory of the season.
“I’ll never forget this one because it took five years off my life,’’ he said. “It’s the worst we’ve played all year.’’
Central coach Brandon Krantz said the fact his team didn’t quit against the Vikings was gratifying.