Thompson Pitches, Morrissey Hits Owls Past Blue Raiders, 2-1

With Bradley Loss, Ooltewah Takes Top Spot In 5-AAA

Monday, April 8, 2013 - by Larry Fleming

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The Thompson boys locked horns in a sterling high school pitching duel Monday night.

Ooltewah’s Zach Thompson won it.

Thompson threw a five-hitter and struck out a season-high 13, Chase Morrissey hit a sixth-inning home and the Owls turned back Cleveland’s Blue Raiders, 2-1, to grab first place by 32 percentage points over Bradley Central in the District 5-AAA regular-season title chase.

The Owls improve to 15-7 overall and 8-1 (.889) in district play.

Bradley Central dropped a 4-0 decision at Walker Valley and fell to 13-5, 6-1 (.857) on the season.

Walker Valley and Cleveland are 6-3 and 4-3, respectively, in the district.

After the Owls and Bears close out their current series against the Blue Raiders and Mustangs on Tuesday, they will square off in two key district games on April 15-16 – the first game will be played in Cleveland.

“I thought I pitched as well tonight as I did at Rhea County a week or so ago,” said the Owls’ Thompson (4-1). I’d put those two games at the top of my list for this season.”

The hard-throwing right-hander walked off the field almost breathless after throwing 103 pitches, although he needed just 11 to retire the Blue Raiders (10-12, 4-3) in the seventh inning.

“I’m spent,” Thompson said.

Thompson retired the first six batters before Michael Henderson led off the third with an infield hit. Henderson was wiped out on a fielder’s choice and Thompson whiffed Nick Miller and Austin Dykes.

Cleveland’s Kimsey Bell started the fourth with a single to left, but Jake Wyrick hit into a fielder’s choice and then Taylor Thompson, the Blue Raiders’ starting pitcher, ground into a double play.

“Zach had his really good stuff early,” Owls coach Brian Hitchcox said. “The first three innings he was electric. I don’t know what he was on the gun, but his ball had life. He had good location. He was very, very sharp.

“It was a good up tempo game and I thought Zach dictated the tempo.”

Thompson was working on a two-hitter through five innings and had used just 73 pitches with nine strikeouts.

“Again, I was relying on my fastball,” he said. “I threw a few curves and got most of them over for strikes. I feel good about how I threw.”

Up to that point, Ooltewah was nursing a tenuous 1-0 lead, thanks to Hayden Bradley reaching on a third-inning fielder’s choice, stealing second base and scoring on a single by catcher Brody Binder, who went 3-for-4 in the game.

The Owls had runners at second and third with none out in the fourth, but Taylor Thompson bowed his back and struck out Mitch Duncan and Bryson Owen and got Logan Fugate on a hard-hit, inning-ending  one-hopper to second.

In Ooltewah’s sixth, Morrissey, who had grounded out and was hit by a pitch in two previous at-bats, worked Taylor Thompson to a 3-0 count. Thompson fired a strike, but Morrissey blasted the next offering over the right-field fence near the 345-foot mark.

“He had to throw a strike at 3-0 and that next pitch was a fastball over the plate and I was looking for it,” Morrissey said. “I hit it good.”

Said Taylor Thompson (2-2): “I wasn’t hitting my spots very well tonight. My curveball was a little off. I got behind (Morrissey) and had to come in with a pitch. On the ball he hit out, I just left it over the plate a little too much.”

Hitchcox breathed a sigh of relief after Morrissey’s team-leading fourth homer.

“We let some scoring opportunities slip by us early on and as a coach you know when you’re playing a good team and a good pitcher, that’s going to come back and bite you,” he said. “Chase hitting the home run gave us a 2-0 cushion and a little breathing room and that ended up being the winning run for us.”

Cleveland coach Ted Carson said his strong-armed right-hander threw extremely well considering he was up until 4:30 a.m. Monday with a stomach virus.

“Taylor did a great job considering what he’s been through and not getting a lot of sleep,” Carson said. “He worked hard and got out of a few jams. Other than the home run, he did a fantastic job.”

Thompson allowed eight hits and struck out nine while walking two.

Cleveland finally got to the Owls’ Thompson in the sixth for a run.

Ryan Adkins struck out.

Dykes walked and Kimsey Bell reached on an infield hit.

Wyrick struck out.

Taylor Thompson’s single up the middle scored Dykes, closing the gap to 2-1.

Eric Powers struck out, the 12th victim of Ooltewah’s tenacious Thompson, to end the threat.

Binder’s third hit came with two out in the Owls’ seventh, but Kevin Dupree struck out for the third time.

In Cleveland’s seventh, Reed Allison led off with a single to center on a 1-2 pitch and went to second on Henderson’s sacrifice bunt.

Pinch-hitter Hunter Oliver blooped a soft liner toward right field but Dupree made a tough over-the-shoulder catch for the second out, likely saving a run.

Thompson struck out pinch-hitter Justin Mullis for the final out.

“Zach went into the seventh having thrown 92 pitches and that kind of makes me nervous,” Hitchcox said. “I thought his legs were still under him and he still had good life on his pitches.

“He saw the finish line and emptied the tank, which is what you want to see.”

Hitchcox was asked if Thompson could be best described as a “bulldog” on the mound.

“He’s a jokester and laid back the other six days of the week,” he said. “He’s a loosey, goosey kind of guy. On the day he pitches, from the time he gets to school, he has a different mentality about him and he’s all business.”

After losing four straight, the Owls have bounced back with four consecutive wins, outscoring Rhea County (twice), Polk County and Cleveland by a combined 28-6.

“Overall this year we’ve pitched really well,” Hitchcox said. “Over 98 percent of the year we have played pretty good defense. Our hitting in most games has given us chances to score, but we’ve got to do a better job in situational hitting and bunting.

“If we do that, we put pressure on the other team and we’ll probably have more opportunities to score. Those are the adjustments I’d like to see us make.”

LINESCORE

Ooltewah                            001 001 0 – 2 8 0

Cleveland                            000 001 0 – 1 5 0

Zach Thompson and Binder; Taylor Thompson and Miller.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)



Minnesota Twins Promote Chattanooga's Nick Gordon To Triple-A Rochester

The Twins promoted their No. 4 prospect, Nick Gordon, to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. The 22-year-old middle infielder, son of former MLB pitcher Tom Gordon and brother of the Mariners' Dee Gordon, hit .333/.381/.525 with 10 doubles, three triples, five home runs and seven steals in 42 games for Double-A Chattanooga this season. Gordon, ranked as the No. ... (click for more)

Signal, CSAS Advance In TSSAA Soccer

Both the Signal Mountain and CSAS boys soccer teams won their Class A state quarterfinal games on Tuesday in Murfreesboro.   SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 1 ALCOA 0 Signal Mountain earned a 1-0 Class A quarterfinal win over Alcoa on Tuesday afternoon.  The teams played 72 minutes without a goal.  Jack Combs scored the game winner in the 72nd minute.   Signal ... (click for more)

State Seeking 1st-Degree Murder Conviction Against Donaldson For Killing Son-In-Law

The state is seeking a first-degree murder conviction against 57-year-old Glen Allen Donaldson for killed his son-in-law. Prosecutor Crystle Carrion told a jury in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole on Tuesday that there was no evidence that self-defense was involved in the slaying of Adam Levi, who was 39. However,attorney Jerry Summers said Donaldson said in a 911 call that ... (click for more)

City Budget Uses $36 Million From Various Reserve Funds

Daisy Madison, the city's chief financial officer, said the upcoming city budget uses $36 million from various reserve funds, including $11 million from the city's rainy day fund. The budget last year pulled $10 million from the rainy day fund. Ms. Madison told City Council members at a budget hearing she did not know exactly how much is remaining in the rainy day fund without ... (click for more)

Liberal Conspiracy Afoot

According to Roy Exum’s Sunday column, there are now upwards of six or seven Democrats in Hamilton County, and all of them have secretly maneuvered their way onto the boards of a couple of dozen local organizations. Unlike Republicans, some of them serve on multiple boards and some of them serve with one another on the same boards. This is outrageous. We all know that boards and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Is This Civil War II?

Jack Minzey, by all accounts, was a beloved professor at Eastern Michigan and, as the head of the university’s School of Education, wrote many books and papers. Some were on the Civil War – he was an avid student of our nation’s worst moment – and his beliefs how to better public education will be quoted for years. Dr. Minzey died at age 89 last month and just last week, the ... (click for more)