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NET team maintains upper hand in senior challenge

Tanner Cook • Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 10:10 AM

BRISTOL—On a sun-drenched Tuesday afternoon at Tod Houston Memorial Field, Northeast Tennessee continued its dominance over Southwest Virginia in the annual baseball senior challenge, winning 5-1 in nine innings.

The Tennessee team has still never lost the senior challenge.

Bryson Collins (Wise Central) started the night off by winning the home run derby, totaling six long balls in the first round and three in the championship showdown. Brogan Beckner (Dobyns-Bennett) was second, totaling four homers.

“I love representing my school and coming out here, playing the game that I have loved my whole life,” Collins said. “It’s great to come out here and compete with a bunch of competitors from both Tennessee and Virginia. … We didn’t win the game, but winning the home run derby gave us a little bit of something as a team. You always want to hit more, but I felt like six was good enough for the lead.”

Collins will be attending UVa.-Wise in the fall.

For the seniors that have already graduated, it was an opportunity to put the jersey on one more time and play the game they love.

Science Hill’s Ben Edwards was named the most valuable player for the Tennessee side, driving in a pair of runs and scoring once for the winning side.

“It feels great to put my jersey on one last time,” Edwards said. “With all the good times I’ve had in this jersey, it’s great to experience it one more time before you put it up forever. … It’s unique to come together with all the other guys from Northeast Tennessee. It’s fun because we’ve played both together and against each other a lot.”

Justin Lewis (Virginia High) was named the same for the Virginia side. He was perfect on the evening, going 3-for-3 with three singles and a walk.

Most of the action happened within the first three innings as Tennessee spurted out to a 3-0 lead after two innings. The next six frames after Virginia scored in the second were pretty clean for the Tennessee side as the combined pitching of Davis Hall (Tennessee High), Hunter Adams (Daniel Boone), Lawson Wagner (Elizabethton), Brantley Ellis (Sullivan East) and Garrett Gleason (Science Hill) shut down a potent Virginia offense. Both Wagner and and Ellis will be attending Roane State in the fall to continue their careers. 

Ellis was brilliant in his three innings pitched, fooling the Virginia hitters in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. 

Until the eighth, Virginia had pitched pretty well, too. However, a pair of errors allowed the last two runs to cross the plate.

“It feels really good. It’s surreal, actually. Cade, Ben and I have been together now for about six years and it’s great to have one last time on the field together,” Gleason said.

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