There’s an old saying that bad luck comes in threes, but that number seemed to be a lucky one for the University High baseball team on Friday at David Crockett’s Sonny Miller Park.

The Bucs (22-13) clinched a third straight trip to the state tournament with a 9-0 win over Tellico Plains in Class A sectional play.

UH senior pitcher and Tennessee signee Kaleb Meredith went the distance to earn the win, scattering three hits while striking out seven.

He threw 86 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.

The Bears (23-8) could not catch up to Meredith’s fastball all night as all three hits were ground balls that got through up the middle.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” UH coach Josh Petty said. “We’ve worked hard all year and we’ve played some tough competition.

“This was the best I’ve seen Kaleb’s secondary stuff in a few games. They really couldn’t catch up to his fastball, so he relied on it most of the game.”

UH could not solve Tellico pitcher Cade Scoggins in the first three innings, but roughed him up in the fourth. Hank Stott and Jesse Greene reached on singles and eventually scored.

Scoggins was relieved by Ethan Fairbanks with two outs in the frame.

The Bucs scored six runs in the fourth, highlighted by Cade Pollock’s bases-clearing double on the first pitch he saw from Fairbanks.

“That really broke the game open,” Petty said.

From there, Meredith was on cruise control.

In the last three frames, he allowed just three base runners, two of which reached via base on balls.

There was a scary moment in the second inning when a high fastball got away from Meredith and hit starting shortstop Ethan Teague squarely in the nose.

Teague fell to the ground in obvious pain and with blood gushing. He was replaced by Burgess Tate and did not return.

“That really didn’t rattle me all that much because I was more worried about him,” Meredith said. “It was just a high fastball that got away from me.”

Meredith recovered, picked off Tate at first base and retired the side.

“I was proud of Kaleb between innings because he talked to Tellico’s coach and asked him how he was doing,” Petty said. “Kaleb was very concerned with that player, but he was able to maintain composure and continue to fill up the strike zone.”

Will Joyner had a standout evening for the Bucs, going 4 for 4 with an RBI.

Pollock ended the game at 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles, a and five RBIs. Jacob Pealer doubled twice in a 2-for-4 effort.

Meredith got on base all four times — reaching by base hit, error, hit-by-pitch and walk.

For Meredith, it marks his fourth trip to Murfreesboro in his long list of accomplishments. He’s been three times for baseball and once for basketball.

“It’s incredible and a lot of people don’t even get to do it once,” Meredith said. “Every year that we’ve had a chance to play in baseball, we’ve gone. Last year didn’t count because of COVID. I’ve got some great teammates and great coaches that try to get us there every year.”

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