CLEVELAND, Tenn. – It’s always fun to cover a baseball game between teams from McCallie and Bradley because you can be guaranteed of two things when they meet.
First off, they are always well-coached and fundamentally prepared to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Secondly, these two teams have a history of outstanding baseball talent, so you know you will see the best on both sides of the field.
That was certainly the case here at Bradley’s Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex Thursday afternoon in the Joe Adams Memorial tournament.
McCallie was able to pull out the 1-0 victory in eight innings as the Blue Tornado improved to 4-1 with the win. Bradley is now 4-5 following the heartbreaking loss.
McCallie coach Tim Costo knows what it’s like to play quality baseball in a game when very few runs are scored. He was just glad that his team was able to come out ahead.
“A win is a win, but what a great game between these two teams,” he said as his players were gathering their equipment and preparing to head to Walker Valley for their second game of the day.
“I thought our three pitchers were totally dominant as they hit their spots and then Nolan Sergeant came through with a big clutch hit.
“I liked the way we competed today as we had a good approach at the plate. We had a lot of runners on base, but we just couldn’t score any runs,” Costo added.
Bradley coach Travis Adams offered similar thoughts.
“That was a good one. We had a couple of chances to score, but not many. Our pitching was really good and I thought that our defense was solid, but we just struck out too many times,” Adams said while taking a break from raking the infield between games.
McCallie had plenty of baserunners as they left one runner stranded in each of the first five innings and two in each of the last three.
And while the Bears did a masterful job of escaping tough situations, they weren’t able to wiggle out of the one in the eighth.
Sergeant, an experienced junior who plays great defense in center and has had more than his share of big hits, led off the eighth with a double into the gap in left-center before scoring when Nick Gibson singled on a 1-2 count.
Hudson Calhoun then singled to put runners on first and second and both advanced when J. Michael Pierce dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt, but nobody else scored as the Bears were able to get the final two outs without any further damage.
Grayson Smith, Olin Johnson and Nolan Bernard combined on the two-hit shutout as they had a dozen strikeouts between them.
Smith had four strikeouts and three walks in the first three innings while Johnson struck out five of the six batters he faced in two innings. Bernard allowed Bradley’s only two hits, but had three strikeouts as he picked up the win with two innings on the hill.
Southpaw Alex Brew allowed three hits and two walks in five scoreless innings before Skylar Crittenden worked the final three, taking the loss after allowing the only run on three hits.
Bradley’s only two hits came with one out in the seventh, but both were stranded.
Jaxon Humble had the first and Braden Malone the second, but Bernard got Tito Williams on a fielders choice before enticing Taylor Duggan to ground to second to end the inning.
Bradley later hosted Lincoln County while McCallie faced Walker Valley in its second game.
The tournament continues on Friday before concluding on Saturday.
McCALLIE 000 000 01 – 1 6 1
BRADLEY 000 000 00 -- 0 2 1
Smith, Johnson, (4), Bernard (6) and Porter; Brew, Crittenden (6) and Malone.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)