It was Senior Night at Soddy Daisy's Tom Higgins Field Tuesday night, but it was the McCallie Blue Tornado baseball team that did most of the celebrating after heading home with the 12-7 non-district win.
Eight Soddy Daisy seniors, including Hadyn Bailey, Jake Leffew, Austin Smith, Zach Keller, Dalton Rogers, Nick Xoinis, Nate Stephens and Talon Harris, were honored in a ceremony before the first pitch was thrown.
Nights like this are always emotional for the players who have been part of a program for several years, but Tuesday night's gathering was a bit more so in light of the fact that Harris was critically injured in a wreck on a Saturday morning in March before the season ever began.
He spent several weeks in Erlanger's Intensive Care Unit and has been at the world-famous Shepherd Center in Atlanta for several weeks now. He's been making steady progress and a target date of late June has been given when the talented young man may get to come home.
When all of the pre-game hoopla finally ended, adrenalin was flowing a little too fast for the Trojans as McCallie took advantage of six walks, one hit batter, two hits and two Soddy Daisy errors to score six runs in the top of the first.
The Blue Tornado added three more in the second as they forced the Trojans to play from behind the rest of the evening.
Caden Ricketts ripped a solo homer in the second to make it 9-1 and Leffew poked a two-run round-tripper in the third to make it 9-3.
That's the way it stayed until McCallie tacked on two more in the sixth and one more in the seventh.
Soddy Daisy sent 10 men to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and scored four runs, but Austin Hickey flied to left with the bases loaded to end the unusual game.
"I'm just thankful that we won," said a subdued McCallie coach Chris Richardson after his team had improved to 11-13 overall.
"I'm not minimizing the importance of ths game, but both teams are facing key games later this week. It was an interesting game, but we were fortunate to score that many runs. We did a good job of taking advantage of our opportunities.
"This one was important, but the ones this weekend are really the ones that count," Richardson added, knowing that his team will travel to Nashville for a single game with Father Ryan on Friday before playing a doubleheader on Saturday.
Soddy Daisy faces arch-rival Ooltewah at Bradley on Thursday night in the first round of the District 5-AAA tournament. Soddy Daisy coach Jared Hensley just hopes that Thursday's "second season" will be a new beginning for his team.
"We've had a lot of misfortune on and off the field this year, but it's a new season and hopefully we can take advantage," Hensley said, thinking ahead to Thursday's game with the Owls.
"Tonight was an emotional experience for us all and it's always like that on Senior Night, no matter what the circumstances. We gave them a lot early. McCallie's record doesn't show that they have a fine team and are good enough to take advantage of our free gifts.
"We were in a hole from the beginning and had to try to dig our way out. We just came up short. There have been games this spring when I didn't think we competed very well, but we never gave up tonight as I liked the way we competed.
"We were just a couple of big hits away at the end, but nothing went our way early. Obviously, we wanted to win this game, but like McCallie, we have bigger games coming up later," Hensley added.
Keller was the starter for Soddy Daisy and the senior southpaw had a miserable experience. All seven of the hitters he faced reached as he didn't record an out before he was replaced by Tyler Westmoreland.
Tyler Payne and Chase Marsh led off the game with back-to-back walks before Brian Viscomi got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Payne scored when a pickoff throw to first was wide.
Evan Speicher plated the second run with a single before Christian Burnett walked. Mitch Dolinger plated another run with a single before Zach Anderson got an RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
Westmoreland then got Tanner Buchanan and Spencer Morgan on groundouts, but the fifth and sixth runs scored in the process.
Dolinger and Anderson had RBI-singles in the McCallie second as the lead stretched to 9-0 before Soddy Daisy had even batted around the first time.
Christian Amos came in for Soddy Daisy and pitched five innings, but he appeared to get tired in the sixth. A walk to Burnett was followed by back-to-back bunt singles by Matthew Brock and Anderson to load the bases.
Payne and Marsh both got easy RBIs with bases-loaded walks.
A run-scoring single by Burnett in the seventh concluded the scoring for McCallie.
Soddy Daisy made it a little bit more respectable with four runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Xoinis and Smith both had run-scoring singles while Bailey and Ricketts each got a run home with bases-loaded walks.
McCallie finished with 12 runs on 11 hits while Soddy Daisy countered with seven runs on eight hits. Both teams made a pair of errors.
Burnett had three hits for the Blue Tornado while Speicher, Dolinger, Brock and Anderson had two each.
Payne and Marsh didn't have any hits, but they had seven walks between them.
Andy Wright and Xoinis were the only Soddy Daisy player with two hits.
Leffew and Ricketts both homered while Rogers and Smith each had a single.
McCALLIE 630 002 1 -- 12 11 2
SODDY DAISY 012 000 4 -- 7 8 2
Morgan, Stone (2), Williamson (4) Whitener (5), Viscomi (7) and Anderson; Keller, Westmoreland (1), Amos (2), Bailey (7) and Ricketts, Clift (5).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)