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July 24, 2017

Grizzly baseball takes second in district tourney

Elmer Smith
Grainger Today Correspondent
TUSCULUM –In the District 2-AA baseball tournament played last Monday, May 8 atTusculum College, the Grainger High School Grizzly baseball team took on the Bulldogs from Claiborne High School. Due to the rain and wet grounds over the previous weekend, the first round of the tournament had to be postponed from Saturday to Monday. In their opening game, the Bulldogs beat Chuckey-Doak in an 11:30 a.m. game, Monday, to advance to their semifinal game against Grainger at 5 p.m. It appeared that the earlier game had allowed the Bulldogs to find their batting groove asClaiborne put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning and then added three additional runs in the third to take an 8-0 lead over the Grizzlies, who did not score in the first three innings. In the top of the fourth inning, Claiborne pushed their advantage to 11-0 as the game headed into the bottom of the fourth inning where Tanner Collins reached in an infield single, which was followed by a single from Jeb Hurst and a walk to Landon Holt to load the bases. After a passed ball scored a run, Clint Bolin hit a two-run double and was followed by Brock Davidson, who doubled to drive in the fourth run of the inning and cut the Bulldog lead to 11-4. After keeping Claiborne off the board in the top of the fifth inning, the Grizzlies added a run on a walk to Nick Conley, a single by Tanner Collins and a sacrifice fly to left field from Holt, which cut the Granger deficit to 11-5, with possibly only two innings left in the season for the Grizzlies. In the top of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs struck back to add two runs to increase their lead to13-4. However in the bottom of the sixth, leadoff hitter Brock Davidson was hit by a pitch and Hunter Sykes walked. That was followed by an RBI single from Jake Myers and a two-run triple from Nick Conley. An error and a passed ball allowed the Grizzlies to add two runs, which cut the Bulldog lead to 13-10 heading into the seventh inning. After holding Claiborne scoreless in the seventh inning, freshman Bryson Collins opened the bottom of the seventh with a single, which was followed by a single from Davidson and an infield single from Sykes that drove in a run. Shortly afterwards, Myers stroked a two RBI single that knotted the score at 13-all and sent the game into extra innings. After a scoreless top of the eighth inning for the Bulldogs, the Grizzlies got a walk to Sales, and a sacrifice by Holt put the winning run in scoring position. After a second out, shortstop ClintBolin’s single scored a run for the 14-13 victory. Kobe Evans, who came on in relief for the Grizzlies, picked up his first varsity win, and Grainger moved into the winners’ bracket finals.Greeneville 6, Grainger 0 In the winners’ bracket finals played last Tuesday, the Grizzlies took on the Greeneville Greene Devils, who were undefeated in district play. In that game, the Grizzlies were facing one of the two top pitchers in the district. Grainger was unable to generate any offense as they had only one hit and one runner who reached on an error. The Greene Devils scored three runs in the third and three in the fourth to post a 6-0victory and remain undefeated in the tournament. Grainger 11, Claiborne 1 After dropping the game to Greeneville, the Grizzlies once again took on the Claiborne Bulldogs, who had staved off elimination by posting a 20-8 victory over West Greene. The winner of this game would remain alive in the tournament and would advance to a game with undefeated Greeneville. The second meeting between the Bulldogs and the Grizzlies was much different than when the two teams played their first game in the district tournament. Clint Bolin led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out to the first baseman and then scored on a squeeze bunt to the pitcher by Hunter Sykes for a 1-0 Grainger lead after the first inning. In the second inning, the Grizzlies batted around and added five runs to their total. Nick Conley led off with a single before Tanner Collins was hit by a pitch and Jeb Hurst walked to load the bases with no outs. After a pair of Grizzlies struck out, Bolin slammed a triple to score three runs. That was followed by a walk to Brock Davidson and a two-run single from Sykes as the Grainger lead reached 6-0 after two innings. After a scoreless third inning, the Bulldogs put an unearned run on the board on a throwing error and a sacrifice fly to cut the Grainger lead to 6-1. That lead stood until the bottom of the fifth inning. Myers led off with a single which was followed by a double from Nick Conley. However, Myers was out at third on a throw from the center fielder. Walks to Hurst and Landon Holt were followed by a single from Bolin. Brock Davidson reached on a fielder’s choice and a run scored on a passed ball, which was followed by a walk to Sykes. An error on the second baseman allowed Myers, the 10th batter of the inning, to reach base as the fifth Grainger run ofthe inning scored to give the Grizzlies an 11-1 run-rule victory. Nick Conley picked up the victory. He allowed no earned runs on four hits while striking out five batters in the five-inning game. With the victory, the Grizzlies clinched a berth in the Region One tournament and earned a second chance at Greeneville. Greeneville 5, Grainger 0 In the tournament championship played last Thursday, the Grizzlies once again faced the superb Greeneville pitching. In the game, Grainger had only one hit and a walk as the Green Devils claimed the district tournament championship and home field advantage in the Region One semifinals. Greeneville, who has won 21 of their last 22 games, will play Sullivan South at home, while the Grizzlies second place finish means they were on the road to play Elizabethton, the District One champions, Monday. “The way the players responded after getting down in the first game was great,” said Grainger coach Jake Stiles. “They never gave up. Not only did they come back to win, they kept playing on a high level throughout the tournament. Even in the losses to Greeneville we played them tight.

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