The Red Bank Lions did a good job of coming back in Thursday night's game against visiting Sequatchie County in the opening round of the Ooltewah Invitational baseball tournament, but they couldn't keep the Indians from scoring the winning run two innings later on a dropped fly ball.
The Indians improved to 3-3 overall with the come-from-ahead 6-5 victory in a game that was pretty even on both sides and where both teams missed more than one chance to take control.
Sequatchie had scored one run in the first and three more in the second before adding another in the fifth, but the Lions batted around in their half of the fifth to score four runs to knot the score at 5-5.
Neither team threatened in the sixth, but the Indians scored the game-winner in the top of the seventh.
Dakota Hudson, who had a two-run single in Sequatchie's three-run second, led off with a single to right and went to third on a single by Logan Wells. A walk to Aaron Grayson loaded the bases with nobody out before Hunter Romans got the first out on a called strike.
Jordan Henry followed with what appeared to be a routine fly to center, but Hagen Wilkey apparently lost the ball in the lights and it glanced off his glove as Hudson raced home with what turned out to be the winning run.
Romans got Austin McGowan on a pop to first to end the inning, but the damage had been done.
Wilkey led off Red Bank's half of the seventh by reaching on a bad throw by third baseman Grayson, but the Lions couldn't take advantage as Grayson got the first out on a grounder to thiird before Thomas Willoughby retired the next two on a strikeout and a grounder back to himself.
Red Bank used a hit batter, two walks and three singles to score its four runs in the fifth.
D.J. Hale walked to lead off while Ryder Pierce singled to left. Johnny Goodman then stroked an RBI-single up the middle to score Hale before Wilkey plated Pierce with a sacrifice fly to left.
Goodman scored the third run on a wild pitch while Blake Turner's single up the middle drove in Gage Winton, who had walked and gone to second when Tyler Phillips got hit by a pitch.
Sequatchie County starting pitcher Jake Pickett was replaced by Willoughby after Turner's hit, but the rally ended when the scrappy right-hander struck out the next two Lions.
"I thought we did a good job of coming back, but we have to learn that we can't afford to sit on a lead," said Sequatchie County coach Aaron Simmons after the game ended.
"I think we got too comfortable with that lead, but we showed a lot of grit with that last run in the seventh. I finally saw a little fire in their eyes as they acted like they wanted to win the game," Simmons added.
Red Bank coach Trey Hicks kept thinking about all of the runners his team left on base, which included two in each of the third and fifth innings and one in every other inning except the sixth.
"We had ample opportunities all night long and that was the difference in the game," Hicks said after a brief talk with his players.
"We have to take advantage of our opportunities when we have runners on early as the pressure builds as the game goes on, but we came up with some big hits in the fifth.
"Blake (Winstead) struggled with his command early, but settled down to pitch pretty well. We hit the ball pretty well at times, but we have to be able to get key hits with runners on base. The season is still young and we're still trying to identify our roles, but it was really a pretty even game," Hicks added.
The Indians finished with six runs on nine hits while the Lions countered with five runs on seven hits.
Willoughby, who started the game at shortstop, came in to relieve Pickett with one out in the fifth. He earned his money right off the bat as he struck out the next two with two Red Bank runners on base.
Pickett allowed all five runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four. Willoughby was perfect as he allowed no hits or walks while striking out four. The only Lion who reached was Wilkey with the error in the seventh, but he was still standing on second when the game ended.
Catcher Logan Wells had three hits for the Indians, including an RBI-double in the first, while Hudson and Pickett had two each.
Goodman was the Red Bank star at the plate with three hits, including a double in the first. Phillips and Wilkey both had a double while Pierce and Turner both had a single for the Lions. Hale didn't have a hit, but he walked twice and scored both times.
Both teams left eight runners on base.
Sequatchie Co. 130 010 1 -- 6 9 1
Red Bank 100 040 0 -- 5 7 2
Pickett, Willoughby (5) and Wells; Winstead, Romans (5) and Winton.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)