East Hamilton Beats McMinn, 10-4, For 5-AAA Tourney's Top Seed

Bradley Falls Into No. 2 Spot, Soddy-Daisy No. 3, Ooltewah No. 4

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - by Larry Fleming

East Hamilton put the finishing touches on the seedings for next week’s District 5-AAA baseball tournament at Ooltewah High with a 10-4 victory over McMinn County on Wednesday at Chattanooga State.

The win gives the Hurricanes (19-13, 9-3) the No. 1 seed for the tournament, meaning Bradley Central (17-11, 9-3) will be the second seed. With East Hamilton’s win, Walker Valley got the No. 6 seed and McMinn County fell to No. 7.

“All you get for this is a bye,” Hurricanes coach Steve Garland said. “But it’s going to be a dogfight up at Ooltewah. We’ve been through a lot. We had two guys (first baseman Austin Gatewood and second baseman Kyle Cox) get injured before the season and didn’t play at all.

We thought our on-campus baseball field would be ready, but it wasn’t, so we bounced around playing where we could again. I’m really proud how my guys have handled themselves. They scrapped all season.”

East Hamilton got the top spot with the district tie-breaker. The Hurricanes split with Bradley and Soddy-Daisy and split with Ooltewah. Bradley split with the Owls, so the top seed and bye went to East Hamilton.

Third-seed Ooltewah (15-12, 7-5), the defending tournament champion, will play No. 5 Cleveland (10-18, 5-7) at 5 p.m. next Wednesday in the tournament’s opening game. No. 3 Soddy-Daisy (14-14, 8-4) takes on No. 6 Walker Valley (10-18, 2-10) at 8 p.m.

The championship game is scheduled for May 7 at 4 p.m., with an “if necessary” game would follow.

East Hamilton pummeled three McMinn County (11-16, 2-10) for 14 hits. Catcher Nick Fahler went 2-for-2 with five RBIs on a two-run single, a one-run single, sacrifice fly and bases-loaded walk to lead the offensive onslaught.

Hunter Parker was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs; Hunter Owen went 2-for-4 with a double and scored three runs; Nicholas Woods was 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI and Matty Henshaw added a run-scoring triple.

Hunter Smith (4-2) was the winning pitcher, working 5.2 innings and Ethan Hollingshead mopped up.

Garland is back in Class AAA – the Hurricanes moved up from Class AA after the 2012-13 school year – after spending 11 years at Soddy-Daisy. He has coached against some of the same coaches that attended Wednesday’s meeting to finalize plans for next week’s tournament.

After a full season in 5-AAA, Garland has a pretty good perspective on what ahead for his Hurricanes.

“There is parity from top to bottom,” he said. “Everybody’s close. It’s a balanced league and it often comes down to matchups. Some teams match up differently, depending on who’s on the mound. It’s not that anybody would be a favorite in any game. It’s what the matchups look like for that day.”

As an example, the Hurricanes had to fight to put away McMinn County on Monday, 3-0. One of their district losses was to Walker Valley (3-0 on March 25).

There’s equality at the top of the district as well.

On Monday, Ooltewah beat Bradley Central, 7-6, in 10 innings on Brody Binder’s double. The next night, the Bears pulled out a 3-2 win over the Owls by scoring twice in the sixth inning.

East Hamilton swept Cleveland, 2-0, in 11 innings and Blue Raiders pitching ace Taylor Thompson went nine innings. The Hurricanes won that game on a Nicholas Woods two-run homer in the 11th.

“When top pitchers for the district teams are going, that’s a great equalizer,” Bears coach Travis Adams said. “When those good pitchers are throwing well it hides weaknesses in your offense or defense. You have to play those games perfectly.

“If you take an inning off, sometimes even a pitch off, you can mess up a game real quick. It has to be game on and that’s baseball this time of the year. The kids have to find a way to be consistent.”

Soddy-Daisy, which caught fire last year to finish runner-up to Ooltewah in the tournament and earn a spot in the Region 3-AAA semifinals, lost at Bradley, 8-1, and bounced back to beat the Bears, 4-3.

The Trojans beat Cleveland, 9-0, on Monday and then lost to the Raiders, 6-1, on Tuesday and got only three hits off Thompson. They beat East Hamilton, 8-3, and lost the next day, 4-3.

In mid-March, the Owls shut out Soddy-Daisy, 2-0, and then lost 10-3 a day later.

Get the idea?

“I don’t think there’s one game in this bracket that would really be an upset if it went to the lower seed,” Owls coach Brian Hitchcox said. “I think we’ve all got number ones (pitchers) that can beat anybody. Each team has things it can do better than other teams. It’s a very balanced district and somebody’s going to have to get hot at the right time.”

That’s what Soddy-Daisy did last year.

The Trojans went into the tournament as the No. 7 seed with an 8-21 record and had lost five of their last seven games, including a series sweep to Walker Valley, 8-3 and 4-0.

A week later Walker Valley was the tourney’s No. 2 seed when it faced Soddy-Daisy.

The Trojans beat the Mustangs, 10-4. Then they knocked off No. 3 Bradley Central, 10-5, before losing to No. 1 Ooltewah, 3-1. Soddy-Daisy bumped off Cleveland, 10-1, in the loser’s bracket to secure the No. 2 finish and advance to the region semifinals where it lost to ninth-ranked Cookeville, 7-3.

“We were the poster child for getting hot at the right time last year,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley said. “I can definitely see anybody in this tournament doing that. Every one of these coaches does an incredible job preparing their teams for the postseason.

“It’s always fun and exciting and somebody will always surprise some people along the way.”

Wednesday Summary

McMinn County                    000 004 0 – 4 6 2

East Hamilton                       203 035 x – 10 14 3

Lingerfelt, Simpson (5), Godsey (6) and Fesmire; Smith, Hollingshead (6) and Fahler.

District 5-AAA Tournament

Wednesday, April 30

(Seed in parenthesis)

(4) Ooltewah vs. (5) Cleveland, 5 p.m.

(3) Soddy-Daisy vs. (6) Walker Valley, 8 p.m.

Thursday, May 1

(2) Bradley Central vs. (7) McMinn County, 5 p.m.

(1) East Hamilton vs. Ooltewah-Cleveland winner, 8 p.m.

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


Chattanooga's McLennan Leading Women's Open

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. -- Chattanooga's Emily McLennan leads 17th Golf Capital of Tennessee Women's Open Championship.    McLennan has a two day total of 143. Karlin Beck of Pike Road, Ala., had a two day total of 144. Kaitlyn Rohrback of Houston, Texas and Casey Kennedy of Venice, Fla. are tied for third with a two day total of 146.  The tournament ... (click for more)

Cleveland Speedway Has Several Events Saturday Night

A full night of racing with the Late Models, Crate Late Models, A & B Hobby and Road Warriors will be at Cleveland Speedway on Saturday.   For the kids it's "Bike Nite" with a half-dozen bicycles set to be given away to a wide age range of the youth in attendance.   Pits open at 4 p.m. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps start at 8 p.m. after the drivers' meeting. ... (click for more)

Ruling States That City Of Cleveland Is Entitled To Liquor By The Drink Funds

The city of Cleveland is entitled to keep all funds collected since city voters approved “liquor by the drink” in the Nov. 5, 2002 election. Bradley County Schools sued the city for taxes owed based on the school board’s interpretation of state law. Cleveland City Schools will be allowed to keep its money. The city of Cleveland distributed the liquor by the drink tax to Cleveland ... (click for more)

Crash On Chattanooga Avenue Causes Power Outage

A single-car accident in Dalton damaged a power pole on Chattanooga Avenue in front of the Crown Mill Village apartments and has caused a power outage in the area.   Chattanooga Avenue was closed between Matilda Street and Judson Street while the Dalton Police Department investigated the crash and Dalton Utilities worked to replace the pole. The road was reopened later.  ... (click for more)

Chattanooga's Memorial Day - And Response

It is recorded in the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Joshua, that after the nation had crossed the River Jordan, Joshua would receive a divine commandment to choose 12 men from among the people and tell them to take 12 stones from the middle of the river.  Each man placed a stone on their shoulder which represented one of the tribes of Israel, and served as a memorial ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In August 2015

Those in the know tell me the month of August is National Peach Month, so as I take a stroll through garden, I am paying particular attention to the poppy and the gladiolus because they are the “birth flowers" of this month. But as we dole out our months Orchids and Onions, let’s substitute a peach and a pit, that hard seed you find when you bite into a peach. A PEACH to the ... (click for more)