The Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the Sequatchie County Indians in two of the three regular-season baseball games.
But in the game that counted most on Thursday afternoon at Notre Dame's Hunter Field, the visitors from Dunlap advanced to the semifinal round of the District 7-AA baseball tournament with a stirring 2-1 victory.
Sequatchie County junior right-hander Jordan Henry basically won a pitchers' dual with Notre Dame sophomore Alex Darras in a game where both teams made exceptional plays defensively and where the base hits were few and far between.
Henry's numbers were just a little bit better as he allowed just three hits and one run run while striking out five and walking none. He also hit a batter.
Darras probably deserved better fate as he gave up just two runs on six hits. He also had five strikeouts while walking two and hitting a pair.
Henry allowed a one-out single to Notre Dame catcher Thomas McGuire in the first before retiring the next 15 Irish hitters.
Calvin Sims ripped a one-out single to left in the sixth and scored on another single by McGuire. A double steal put Notre Dame runners on second and third with only one out, but Henry coaxed Gage Miller into a pop to second for out number two before Michael Meador made the play of the game when he dove to his left at second to snag a hard grounder by Quinton Buckman for the third out.
Connor Simpson got hit with two outs in the seventh, but he was stranded at first when Joey Gryzbowski grounded to short to end the game.
The Indians scored both of their runs in the fourth. As it turned out, that was plenty for the 17-year-old Henry, who improved to 5-2 with the complete-game gem.
Catcher Logan Wells led off with a double down the line in right before Jeremiah Barker earned a four-pitch walk. Troy Sanders drove in the first run on a fielders' choice while a double into the corner in left by Austin McGowan sent Barker home with the eventual winning run.
Henry only had to throw 74 pitches, but he made the most of everything he threw.
"I just went out and threw strikes and let the guys make plays behind me. I only allowed one run, so I'll take it. I feel really good because we won," he smiled.
Sequatchie County coach Aaron Simmons was just happy to have watched a classic high school game.
"That was a nail-biter," he began after his team improved to 19-17 overall.
"Jordan has pitched well all year as he's been our go-to guy. Today he hit his spots and he stayed under control. We live to play another day," he broke into a big smile.
"Our backs were against the wall when we got here today, but the guys came through as we played relaxed baseball. It seems like we've been pressing all year, but today it was either win or go home. Jordan allowed three hits and one run and didn't walk anybody. You can win a lot of baseball games when you pitch like that," Simmons added.
Notre Dame coach Greg Elie felt like his team did about everything they could do. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough in the most important game of the season.
"We put the ball in play and both teams made some great plays. I wouldn't change anything, but that's just baseball. Their second baseman made a great play in the sixth and that was the story of the game right there.
"And I don't think that Alex Darras can pitch any better than he did today. You just never know what's going to happen in a situation like this, but the hardest part for me is saying bye to our five seniors," Elie added.
Sanders was the only Sequatchie County player with two hits while McGuire was the only one for Notre Dame.
Signal Mountain rallied to beat Bledsoe County in the other 7-AA play-in game on Thursday. The Eagles, who trailed 3-0 early, came back to win by a convincing 10-3 margin.
Signal Mountain will play at Chattanooga Christian today at 6 while Sequatchie County will travel to Grundy County for a 6:30 start.
The semifinals will be a best-of-three series with the championship game set for Tuesday night at Sequatchie County High School, no matter which two teams are involved.
SEQUATCHIE CO. 000 200 0 -- 2 6 1
NOTRE DAME 000 001 0 -- 1 3 1
Henry and Wells; Darras and McGuire.
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)