You always hear coaches at various levels talking about how hard it is to be the same team three times in the same season.
How about the odds of beating a rival team a fourth time?
Such was the case at Boyd-Buchanan Thursday afternoon as the Bucs battled the Silverdale Seahawks for the District 5-A baseball tournament championship.
The Bucs prevailed for the fourth straight time this spring, but this last time was the most one-sided of all.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, freshman shortstop Cade Evans ripped a line single up the middle to score pinch runner Garet Baker. The game ended at that point with the hosts on the upper end of a 10-0 final.
Evans may be one of the best shortstops in the city, but his claim to fame this year has been his hitting. He's been the best hitter in the city all season and he entered Thursday's game with a .494 batting average.
It's probably over .500 now after he collected two hits in four at-bats, but none of his hits have ever been of the game-winning variety.
"That's the position I live for. I was looking for a fast ball and that's what he threw. I knew it was a hit as soon as I hit it, but this is my first game-winning hit ever," the 16-year-old explained after his team had improved to 25-9 overall.
With the win, the Buccaneers will be at home once again on Monday as they host Whitwell in the Region 3-A semifinal. Silverdale will be on the road for a game with District 6-A winner South Pittsburg.
If there's a significant difference between these two teams on Thursday, it was the results that each produced or not with runners on base.
In the first three innings alone, the Seahawks stranded eight runners, including the bases loaded in the first and third innings. They failed to score a single run during that stretch.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers made their base runners count as they scored four in the first, two more in the second and three in the fourth before putting the game away with the last run in the fifth.
Talking about offensive execution, Boyd-Buchanan mastered that idea in the most important game of the season to this point and the results rewarded their effort at the plate.
"We came out and took care of business today," said Buccaneer coach Josh Rider shortly after the game ended.
"Silverdale has a good baseball team. As a coach, I always have to worry about my guys being overconfident, but I don't think that was the case today. In the sport of baseball, any team is capable of beating any other team on any given day.
I thought that John Sewell did a good job pitching. It had been several days since he pitched and he was a little rusty early, but he settled down and pitched pretty well. But I'm just thankful that we get to play here again on Monday," Rider concluded with a smile.
Silverdale coach Jonathan Adcock felt like his team's lack of offense with runners on base may have been a key, but he quickly admitted that his team simply wasn't ready for the challenge on Thursday.
"We just didn't come ready to play for some reason. I don't know it we were tired or what, but give Boyd-Buchanan a lot of credit. They were aggressive at the plate all day and they put it on us," Adcock said matter of factly.
"I don't know what the problem was, but we had way too many runners left on base. A hit here or there may have made a difference, but we never got one. Those guys over there came out expecting to win today. We have a lot of young hitters and we just didn't put the ball in play at critical times," Adcock nodded after his team dropped to 15-9.
Sewell is a junior southpaw who improved to 4-1 with Thursday's win. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five. He was replaced by Josh Antwine with one out in the fifth.
Sewell played with fire early as the Seahawks threatened frequently, but the lefty was up for the challenge as he refused to give in when the situation got tense.
Back-to-back singles by Chance Brown and Colton Rogers followed by a walk to River Crawther with two outs produced nothing as Sewell ended the threat with a strikeout.
Then in the second, Michael Hawkins walked with one out before Jordan Delashmitt reached on an error following the second out. Josiah Green then grounded out to end that threat.
And in the third, Brown reached on another Buccaneer error before Rogers singled for the second straight time. Matt Millard's single with one out loaded the bases, but again, Sewell was up to the challenge as he retired the side with a strikeout and an infield pop.
The Bucs took advantage of their opportunities.
Jim Cardwell led off the first with a double before Evans beat out a perfectly-executed bunt. Nathan Murrell's groundout drove in Cardwell while a two-run single by catcher Hunter Payne with two outs drove in two more. Baker, running for Payne at that point, scored the fourth run when he stole third and then scooted home when the relay throw bounced away from the bag.
Murrell's two-run single was the big blow in the second inning while Cardwell drove in a run in the fourth with his second hit before E.J. Matthews plated two with a single to left.
Skyler Anderson then led off the fifth with a double and stole third before Evans came through with the game-winning hit.
While Sewell was the winning pitcher, a 14-year-old freshman named Michael Hawkins was tagged with the loss.
SILVERDALE 000 00 -- 0 5 2
BOYD-BUCHANAN 420 31 -- 10 9 2
Hawkins and Brown; Sewell, Antwine (5) and Payne.
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)