Third-Ranked Siegel Stymies Ooltewah, 1-0, In Pitching Duel

Owls'Harden Throws One-Hit Relief Over Six Innings

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Siegel showed Ooltewah why the Stars have lost only one baseball game this season.

Four pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout and Siegel clipped Ooltewah, 1-0, in a well-played, 74-minute high school baseball game on Saturday at Ooltewah High.

Ooltewah had a strong pitching as well.

The third-ranked Stars (17-1) had no luck extending a 1-0 first-inning lead against the Owls' emerging relief star C.J. Harden over the final six innings.

“If pitchers throw strikes and you play good defense, you’ve got a chance to win any ballgame,” Siegel coach Craig Reavis said. “We’ve only played one bad game all season and we lost it. We have made 16 errors this season and five game in that loss.”

Harden came on for starter Daniel Willie after one inning and shut down Siegel, which still managed to win its 14th straight game.

Harden, who relies heavily on a forkball, gave up one hit – Chase Sloan’s ground single to left field in the third.  

“This is my first year to throw that forkball,” said Harden, who struck out two and walked two. “My change-up wasn’t working so well, so I decided to try and it’s working out for me.”

The right-handed Harden allowed a runner in the fourth, but the Owls turned a double play to thwart that threat.

With one out in the seventh, Harden walked Peyton Nolan and Shawn Rodgers put down a sacrifice bunt and was safe when third baseman Hayden Bradley booted the slow roller.

Harden struck out Logan Black and induced Kyle Clary into a trademark groundout to end the inning.

“C.J. threw it great,” said Owls coach Brian Hitchcox, his team now 10-5 after having its six-game winning streak snapped. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance.”

Hitchcox’s pitching plan was to let starter Daniel Willie go two innings and then bring in Harden and give him a couple innings. However, when Harden kept befuddling the Stars’ lineup with groundball-inducing pitches, Hitchcox decided to let the young pitcher keep going.

“He was just throwing too well to take him out,” Hitchcox said. “Our plan worked like a charm except that the guys didn’t execute a few plays when we had chances to score. Against a team like Siegel, which pitches well and plays solid defense, the margin for error is small.”

Willie walked Stars leadoff batter Connor Moss to start the game and he promptly stole second. Chase Sloan reached on shortstop Mitch Duncan’s throwing error, with Moss scoring on the play.

Sloan also stole second ahead of Blake Benefield’s fly-ball out to right. Nick Kristinus walked and Carson Lester flied out to center to end the inning.

Harden came on to start the second inning and retired the first five. Sloan had a two-out single, stole second and Benefield drew a walk. Owls third baseman Hayden Bradley fielded a Kristinus grounder and forced out Sloan at third.

Lester was safe on Duncan’s second throwing error to start the fourth, but Peyton Nolan lined into a 4-3 double play and Johnny Rodgers flied out to end the inning.

Harden retired the Stars in order on 10 pitches in the fifth and did the same thing in the sixth, but needed only seven pitches.

With one out in the seventh, Nolan walked and Rodgers reached when Bradley misplayed Rodgers’ sacrifice bunt cleanly.

Not easily rattled, Harden struck out Logan Black and Kyle Clary grounded out to escape the jam.

Harden got 13 ground-ball outs and only two outs were recorded by Ooltewah outfielders.

“Their guy threw really well,” Reavis said of Harden. “He’s got a lot of movement on that one pitch (forkball) he throws.”

Said Harden, “I’ve got a lot of confidence in that pitch.”

Siegel’s pitchers threw confidently – and hard – as well and that was one reason the game lasted only 1 hour and 14 minutes.

Benefield, the Stars’ 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pound right-handed starter, worked four innings and gave up all three Ooltewah hits. He walked two while picking up the win.

Josh Carroll, Anthony Jordan and Clary combined for three hitless innings, with Clary recording two strikeouts in the seventh.

“Blake is probably the fourth guy in our rotation,” Reavis said, “but he’s probably as good as the top three. I really like him at third base and we’ve got good enough arms that we don’t have to use him for our district series.”

Benefield gave up a leadoff single to the Owls’ Brody Binder in the first, but he was forced out by a Caleb Collins infield grounder. Collins was thrown out trying to steal second ahead of Logan Fugate being hit by a pitch. Bradley grounded out to end the inning.

With two out in the third, Collins ripped a double to right-center and Fugate singled him to third. Bradley lined out to first.

Benefield got the final out of the fourth and the three Siegel relievers retired the final nine to end the game – they didn’t allow a ball out of the infield.

“This kind of game is exactly what we needed,” Hitchcox said. “We played a high-level game against a really good team that has great pitching and defense. I’ve had a couple teams that were so strong in pitching and defense they thought they could win every game. Siegel has the same thing.

“For us to play that well against a team like Siegel tells you how far we’ve come this year.”

Siegel                                    100 000 0 – 1 2 0

Ooltewah                               000 000 0 – 0 3 3

Benefield, Carroll (5), Jordan (6), Clary (7) and Rodgers; Willie, Harden (2) and Binder.

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



PHOTOS: Lookouts Celebrate Winning Second-Half Title

Four weeks ago, no one would have expected the Lookouts would be even close to winning the second-half title. An 11-game winning streak put them into the race and when they swept the Tennessee Smokies Sunday they had concluded an incredible comeback. The Smokies were still in a position to win before Chris O'Brien's pinch-hit triple plated Corey Seager and O'Koyea Dickson with ... (click for more)

Willerson, Georgia Northwestern Ready For 2014 Golf Season

Most second-year college golf programs are too busy laying a foundation to concern themselves too much with results. Jared Willerson isn’t thinking that way. In fact, the head coach of the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats is thinking in complete opposite terms when he talks about his team’s goals for the 2014-2015 season. “I don’t think I’m being unrealistic ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)