After grinding out an emotional 11-inning win over Cleveland on Saturday, Soddy-Daisy’s Trojans came back with another stout-hearted performance Monday night in a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Walker Valley to remain alive in the District 5-AAA baseball tournament at Ooltewah High.
The Trojans (19-15) advance to the loser’s bracket finals on Tuesday against top-seed East Hamilton at 7 p.m.
The winner moves into Wednesday’s 4 p.m. title game against No. 2 seed Bradley Central, which knocked off the Hurricanes, 8-4, Saturday night. An “if necessary” showdown for the championship would be played 30 minutes after the first game.
Soddy-Daisy’s Gavin Rogers delivered a two-run single in the fifth inning to provide the winning runs against the Mustangs (12-20).
Rogers relieved starter Caden Ricketts in the sixth and picked up a save. He was also the winner in Saturday’s cliffhanger, thanks to Dev DeMatteo’s leadoff homer in the 11th inning against the Blue Raiders.
“Gavin did a great job,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley said. “It’s very uncharacteristic for us to bring a guy back like that, but he wanted the ball. He showed a lot of heart getting that save.
“After (Saturday’s) game I felt like we needed to play off that emotion and did to a degree. I think that game helped prepare us to hold the lead (Monday). We’ve lost leads late in some games, but we made some tough plays down the stretch to hold on.
Walker Valley, the sixth seed, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third on Tucker Mendenhall’s single and John Simmons’ run-scoring double. Simmons turned in a strong pitching effort Saturday in a five-hit shutout to eliminate fourth-seed Ooltewah.
The Trojans, who went from a seven-seed in 2013 to a second-place finish that earned them a trip to the Region 3-AAA semifinals, tied the game in the fourth when Andy Wright and Ricketts walked to set up the run.
Christian Amos struck out trying to put down a sacrifice bunt. Cale Morgan, batting eighth in the lineup, moved the runners up with a bunt and a wild throw to first allowed Wright to score Soddy-Daisy’s first run.
The Mustangs regained the lead on Elijah West’s fifth-inning solo home run.
Soddy-Daisy had an answer to West’s go-ahead clout.
DeMatteo singled and was sacrificed to second by Hickey. Dillon Clift followed with a single. DeMatteo held up at third and Dillon went to second on the outfield throw-in.
Rogers then delivered his two-run single.
Ricketts worked the first five innings and allowed both Walker Valley runs. Still, Hensley felt Ricketts’ effort was solid.
“He was unbelievable,” Hensley said. “We call him the ‘Giant Killer’ because we’ve thrown him against some good teams when we’ve been out of pitchers. I’m proud of Caden and Gavin.”
Walker Valley 001 010 0 – 2 5 2
Soddy-Daisy 000 120 x – 3 6 2
Clark and Oliver; Ricketts, Rogers (6) and Clift.
Winner’s Bracket Final
Soddy-Daisy vs. East Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Bradley Central vs. East Hamilton-Soddy-Daisy winner, 4 p.m.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)