University High sent 14 batters to the plate in the first inning of its Region 1-A baseball semifinal with Jellico at Thomas Stadium on Monday. The Bucs banged out nine hits, including two triples and two inside the park home runs, and scored 10 runs.
Mercifully, the game ended after 4 1/2 innings with UH on top 17-2.
“We just took care of business today,” said University High coach Josh Petty. “The guys did a good job of hitting line drives. And we got to play everybody on the roster so all around it was a good day.”
And then some.
The Bucs (22-10) added six more runs in the second inning and built an insurmountable 16-0 lead.
Next up for UH is a Wednesday regional final on the road at Greenback. The Cherokee edged North Greene 6-5 to advance.
Jellico (12-13), which had only nine players in uniform, was hard pressed to stop the Bucs’ onslaught. Eight of the first nine UH batters not only reached base, they scored.
A.J. Simerly and Michael Degennaro had first-inning inside the park home runs.
Jakob Hare finished with a double and a triple, drove in three runs and scored twice. Brant Hare also had two hits, including a triple and three RBIs. He also scored twice.
The Bucs finished the contest with 14 hits.
UH starting pitcher Jack Bembry tied the Blue Devils up in knots. He retired the first nine batters he faced and when Jellico’s Hunter Suto broke up the no-hitter with a single in the fourth, Bembry went to the bench after striking out five.
“I knew before the game that coach had me on a pitch count so that was fine,” said Bembry. “I only threw fastballs and curves; they were working so well for me.”
Bobby Zecchini got Jellico’s only other hit of game.
Blue Devils’ coach Randy Moses had only positive things to say about his team.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Moses. “Last year we won only one game and we won 12 this year and made the regionals. We’ll come back next year and build on that.”
HONORING A FALLEN BUC
Prior to the game, University High retired the jersey of Ben Shew. Shew, who was captain of the 2002 Bucs team that made it to state, was killed in a tragic accident last week.