MORRISTOWN — Hits were hard for Dobyns-Bennett to come by Monday.
Fortunately for the Indians, a couple of swings from Austin Dayton and Logan Gentry counted for more than nine from Morristown West.
The two Tribe sluggers each homered for a combined five RBIs, and D-B eliminated the District 2-AAA baseball champions 7-3 in the opening round of Region1-AAA play at Trojans Field.
The Indians (30-6), who nailed down a spot in Friday’s sectional, advanced to face Sevier County (32-8) at J. Fred Johnson Stadium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for the regional championship. The Smoky Bears eliminated Science Hill 5-4 in eight innings on Monday.
“We came out kind of slow (offensively) but we got the big hits when we needed to,” said Dayton, whose three-run blast over center in the fourth inning pushed D-B to a 5-1 lead.
The shot was Dayton’s eighth of the season and plated his 48th, 49th and 50th RBIs. The lick also brought out the hook for Trojans starter Will Gardner (7-3).
Dayton’s rip was only the third hit of the day allowed by the Morristown right-hander, who walked five and was otherwise burdened by three of Morristown’s four errors.
Southpaw reliever Will Heflin brought D-B’s rally to a screeching halt, and the lefty struck out three in the scoreless fifth. But in the sixth, a collective mental error by the West infielders allowed Dayton to get on base with an infield pop-up that landed just behind the mound — and stuck.
“I guess I was practicing with my short irons, there,” Dayton joked. “I was surprised it dropped. They were all just standing around looking at it. I guess it was just a lucky hit.”
Gentry made good use of the lead runner on the subsequent at-bat, driving the ball over right center for his fifth homer of the year. He had an RBI single in the first inning, which also saw Chris Cook score on a wild pitch.
Gentry (8-0) pitched all seven innings. He gave up 10 hits but the Trojans had only one RBI to show for it. That was off Austin Bishop’s infield single in the fifth. The other run scored that inning came on a disputed bases-loaded plunk of Isaac Woody.
Morristown West (25-9) got a run in the first inning when Jake Logan stole home while Chas Hadden was caught stealing second. Sammy Salyers picked off Hadden on a throw from behind the plate.
“They had a few base knocks on (Gentry), but they never did square anything up on him great,” said D-B coach Ryan Wagner. “He’s a real good endurance guy. He was throwing strikes and we just didn’t think they’d put together enough hits if we made the plays behind him.”
The Indians put on an error-free defensive clinic, including a keen unassisted double play by Dayton that got Gentry out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning.
“Tonight Kingsport made more plays than we did and it was reflected on the scoreboard,” said Morristown West coach Chuck Stansberry.