JEFFERSON CITY – After extending its season earlier in the day the Greeneville baseball team kept its District 2-3A Championship hopes alive on Wednesday evening by taking down Grainger 5-3.
“This team has come such a long a way this year,” Greeneville coach Andy Collins said. “Just when you look at this lineup we have freshmen and sophomores throughout. They have grown so much. Our defense and our pitching has gotten so much better this year. We still to nee to develop as hitters, but we have been developing our pitching since August and you can see that paying off.”
The win sets up a rematch with the Grizzlies on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Carson-Newman. The winner will claim the district title and a home game on Monday in the first round of the Region 1-2A Tournament, while the loser will be on the road for the regional.
“For me its about getting to play more baseball,” Greeneville coach Andy Collins. “And I hope what comes out is a passion for baseball in these guys. For me, it may be selfish, but I’m just excited that we get to keep playing. Just to have a few more games coaching these guys is what it’s all about.”
On the mound the Greene Devils got a stellar performance from Kobe Mundy who kept the Grizzlies in check all day. He went 6 1/3 innings with four strikeouts, six walks while scattering eight hits. The key on Wednesday for the sophomore was a newly developed changeup that he and battery-mate Noah Murray used to keep Grainger guessing all day.
“It was all about throwing strikes and letting he defense make plays,” Mundy said. “Don’t tell coach I said this, but it was my first game throwing a changeup and its working. It felt good. They are a bunch of out-front hitters that like to pull the ball, I knew where I had to throw to them and it just worked.”
Grainger got the scoring started in the second inning when Landon Dalton worked a two-out walk. He stole second and went to third when a ground ball got stuck in the glove of second baseman Crobin Cannon. Dalton then scored on a wild pitch before the Devils could get out of the inning.
Greeneville used base running to get that run back in the third inning. Anderson Franklin led off the side by lining a shot into left field for a single. He went to second on a passed ball and third on balk. Another delivery from Eli May made its way to the backstop and Franklin darted down the base line to tie the a game at 1-1.
Cannon, who reached on a walk, made his way to third on the passed ball. Parker Shipley then slapped a line drive through the left side to give a Greeneville a 2-1 lead.
It was the third time in three days that Shipley pushed across the go-ahead run for the Devils.
“Parker has been great this tournament. He has stepped up when we have runners on and made some plays,” Collins said.
The Greene Devils added to their lead in the fourth inning started by Ty Casteel who was hit by a pitch. Gage Spano came on to pinch run and went to second when Franklin hit a pop up that was dropped by Brady Smith.
Cannon then hit a chopper to the left side. Its final bounce hung in the air long enough to allow Cannon to reach safely and for Spano to make it all the way home from second for a 3-1 lead.
The Grizzlies got their half of the fifth inning started with Trevor Johnson slamming a triple straight down the right field line. Smith pushed him across on a ground out to second base.
Greeneville gave itself some breathing room in the seventh inning by adding two more runs. Shipley led off the side and reached second safely on a perfectly executed hit and run. Colton RIchards sent a groundball to the shortstop, but before the ball could be flipped to second base Shipley had reached the bag. Smith had to switch his plan and looked to first, but by that time Richards was safe as well.
Casteel sent a sacrifice to centerfield that moved Shipley and he scored when Mundy sent a bunt to empty space right of the mound. Richards then scored on a passed ball to give Greeneville a 5-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the seventh Grainger scored one run on a bases-loaded walks, but Greeneville was able to escape the tight spot with no more damage done.
At the plate Greeneville earned six hits with Franklin going 2-for-4. Shipley was 1-for-2 and reached base three times.
Cannon finished the game on the mound and went 2/3 of an inning with one walk, no strikeouts and no hits allowed.
May took the loss for Grainger. He went 6 1/3 with seven strikeouts, three walks and six hits allowed.
Greeneville started Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Claiborne to advance to the tournament finals.
Colton Richards tossed a complete-game gem for the Devils, with 10 strikeouts three walks and six hits allowed.
The lone run of the contest came in the third inning when Carson Quillen sent a double to centerfield that scored Anderson Franklin.