MILLIGAN COLLEGE — Jonathan Davis was like an Exxon tanker truck Tuesday night. He was bringing the gas.
The Unicoi County left-handed pitcher absolutely dominated Sullivan East, leading the Blue Devils to a 3-0 victory over the Patriots in the losers' bracket semifinals of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at Anglin Field.
The Blue Devils were batting in the bottom of the sixth inning when the rains opened up for the second time. When everyone left the field, it was unclear whether the game was official or would be suspended and picked up today.
About 1½ hours after the game, Blue Devils' coach Charlie Baxter said he was told by TSSAA assistant executive director Gene Menees that it was an official game because five innings had been completed.
That made a winner out of Davis, who faced 24 batters and only four put the ball in play. He struck out 15 and walked five while allowing three hits and a popout.
“He had a good six innings,” said Baxter.
Unicoi improved to 22-6 and will play Happy Valley (17-14) in the losers' bracket final at 6 p.m. — where a region tournament berth will be on the line.
Elizabethton awaits in the championship round. The Cyclones will play Thursday at 6 p.m.
When Tuesday's game was called because of rain, the umpires said it was up to the TSSAA to decide the fate of the contest.
“The umpires said you have to call the TSSAA and let them decide what to do,” said Baxter. “Is it pick up where you left off, or is it official since five innings were completed?
“The coaches didn't know, and the umpires didn't know. I don't think it's addressed at the first of year like it should be in the rules meeting.”
The TSSAA Handbook is typically vague, stating, “In tournament play, a suspended game shall be continued from the point of suspension.” But the rule book doesn't define what a suspended game is — and it doesn't state at least seven innings must be completed.
It also does not address the standard “five innings makes a complete game” rule, although this is likely part of the National High School Federation rule book that covers items not addressed by the TSSAA Handbook.
Davis actually got off to a semi-slow start. He walked the leadoff batter, before getting a popout and strikeout. Then Unicoi County catcher Hunter Burnett gunned down Austin White trying to steal second base to end the first inning — the first of two caught-stealing throws by Burnett.
In the second inning, Davis neatly placed three strikeouts among two singles and a walk.
From that point on, it was plenty of swings and misses. East didn't put the ball in play in the third, fourth or fifth innings.
And Davis even had to sit idle for 35 minutes during a rain delay.
Ryan Flick's single in the sixth inning put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Davis rang up two more Ks. Desperate to get something going, East completed a double steal.
However, Davis locked in and locked down Will Ellis with a strikeout.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils' hitters were making much better contact. They scratched across a run in the second inning as Taylor LaFever reached on an error and eventually scored a wild pitch — barely sliding in ahead of the pitcher's tag at the plate.
Michael Kiernan played wall ball for a one-out double in the fourth inning, and William McIntruff grounded a single to left to put runners on the corners.
Burnett followed with a ripped single to left field, scoring Kiernan. McInturff was gunned down at the plate as he tried to score on the left fielder's error.
However, Austin Garrabrant crushed a deep fly ball to left-center, and it bounced off the fence for an RBI double and a 3-0 lead.