KODAK — It was a two-sided tale for the Vikings (Tennessee High) in the first pair of games in the East Tennessee High School Baseball League championship series on Wednesday at Smokies Stadium.
Thanks to some small ball, the Vikings won the first game 6-5 over the Sevier County Cavaliers in dramatic, nine-inning fashion. However, they were thwarted by Sevier’s standout pitching in Game 2, a 6-0 loss.
Games 3 and 4 will be at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Thursday with the first pitch coming at 5 p.m.
“The idea was to come down here and at least take one,” Vikings head coach Preston Roberts said. “The first game was very emotional, going into extra innings and being back and forth, but in the second game, we just flat-out didn’t play very good.”
In the first game, catcher Garrett Embree delivered a one-out, ninth-inning single and later scored the go-ahead run on Brayden Blevins’ sacrifice fly to right field.
“That’s kind of our game,” Roberts said. “We wanted to keep our opponents within an arm’s length of us, keeping that score tight and put pressure on the defense, whether it’s with bunting and running or stealing.”
The Vikings used four pitchers in the first game as Blevins did not get off to an ideal start, walking the first batter and wound up with five walks in only 1⅓ innings of work.
Ethan Dingus had a big hit for Tennessee High, a two-run single in the fifth that gave the visitors the lead.
In the second game, Sevier County southpaw Brady Scott was brilliant on the bump, going six strong innings and allowing only four hits while striking out four batters.
“Credit goes to (Scott),” Roberts said. “He was able to keep us off-balance and get out of those tough situations.”
It was not that Scott was overpowering, it was just that he routinely got out of jams.
The Vikings left the bases loaded in both the second and fifth innings.
Overall, Tennessee High left eight runners stranded.
“We left a small village on the base path,” Roberts said. “The name of the game is pitching, defense and timely hitting — and we didn’t do a single one of those in the second game.”
Cavaliers catcher Shane Scott hurt the Vikings in multiple instances by going 1 for 2 with a pair of RBIs and reaching base two other times.
Ben Wilcoxon also had a big day for Sevier County in the second game, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Gage Newsom had three hits for the Cavaliers as well — all singles.
“We’ve played a lot of games at Cardinal this summer and we’re pretty comfortable there,” Roberts said. “Every team has bad games, but you can’t let it happen back-to-back games.”