KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett senior Gage Hensley kept hearing he was due for a home run.
It couldn’t have come at a better time than Saturday afternoon at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
With D-B down by two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning against Jefferson County, the left-hander blasted a three-run walk-off shot over left field to give the Indians a 7-6 win.
“Before I went up, Coach (Chris) Cook was just like, ‘Sit out for a fastball.’ It was the first one I swung at,” Hensley said. “I was still a little late when I got hold of it.”
When Hensley made contact, he figured it was a flyout to left. Instead, the ball sailed on until it cleared the fence.
“Actually, I thought it was a routine flyout. But it kept carrying,” he said. “It’s my first home run of the year and everyone has been telling me I’m due for one. I can’t believe I got it.”
Perhaps as unbelievable was the Indians winning despite a rough day in the field. They rapped out 10 hits but committed six errors.
Four of those miscues helped Jefferson County take a 4-1 lead in the second inning.
The Indians (21-9) rallied with two runs in the third and got a game-tying RBI single from Tanner Kilgore in the fifth.
The Patriots pulled back ahead in the sixth and D-B’s final error, in the seventh, gave them a fourth unearned run.
Despite the trouble, D-B hung tough. Sam Ritz was hit by a pitch and Kilgore reached on a Jefferson County error, setting the stage for Hensley’s big moment.
Tribe coach Ryan Wagner was proud of how his team battled, especially coming off a disappointing loss at Bearden on Friday in which the Indians left 14 runners on base.
“We didn’t play real well on defense and we had a tough game last night at the plate,” Wagner said. “It was a two-hour drive back and a tough turnaround to play in the morning.
“Gage is quite an example. He struggled the last two days and had some moments at the plate he probably don’t want to remember. But our last two wins, he’s done something to win the games for us. He’s not the most vocal, but he plays hard and leads by example.”
Kilgore and Ritz also showed leadership in clutch moments. Kilgore was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Ritz finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Jake Timbes also had two hits and scored twice, and Brady Stump went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot.
Peyton Grimm didn’t figure in the decision, exiting after five innings and the game tied at 4. Aiden Byington and Jack Browder, who got the win, each threw an inning and had a run scored against them.
William Franklin pitched six strong innings for Jefferson County. He fanned nine batters, including strikeouts to end the fifth and sixth innings. Beau Revord came on in the seventh and gave up Hensley’s homer.
Sheppard Smith and Franklin each had two hits to lead the Patriots.
Next up for D-B is a home game against Unicoi County on Monday at 5:30 p.m.