Seventh spells defeat for Bulldogs

Knoxville — Bearden High School’s baseball team saw things fall apart in the seventh inning Friday night against Morristown West.

“In the seventh inning, we just couldn’t get an out,” Bulldogs coach John Rice said after Bearden dropped an 8-2 decision to the Trojans at Phil Garner Ballpark. “Our kids competed well, so I’m not disappointed about that.

“This is one of those weeks where we had three games and that doesn’t happen much during the season. We got some good practice today and it’s April 1.”

Morristown West (6-5) scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning as Bearden struggled. The Bulldogs (11-4) used three pitchers in the frame and committed two errors.

In a 2-2 game, the Trojans scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Nick Smelzer. Morristown West scored two runs with the aid of a pair of Bearden errors. Will Heflin delivered the big blow for the Trojans. He had a three-run double. He was, however, gunned down attempting to stretch his hit into a triple.

Morristown West never trailed in the game. The Trojans scored two runs off Bearden starter Shawn DeAngelo. Second baseman Calvin Smith started Morristown West’s rally with a one-out double. He scored on a single by Heflin. Heflin, the Trojans designated hitter, scored the game’s second run when he came home on an RBI groundout by Andrew Bartley.

DeAngelo, who has pitched some big innings for the Bulldogs this season, struggled early in a starting role against the Trojans.

“I was leaving pitches up in the zone early and as the game continued, I was able to work the ball down,” DeAngelo said.

Offensively, the Bulldogs squandered chances to score runs in the first inning as Morristown West starting pitcher Aaron Jones struggled with his control.

Jones retired Bearden leadoff man Bryson Ford on one pitch before issuing three consecutive walks to Brady Duncan, Brandon Trammell and Clark Poynter. Jones escaped damage when Prater Knight popped up and Paul Underwood grounded to third.

Knight, who doubled in one of Bearden’s runs, said that the Bulldogs must put the loss to the Trojans in the rear-view quickly.

“We’ve practiced and we’ve played hard,” Knight said. “Sometimes, games just turn out the way that you want them to.

“We’ve just got to put this one behind us and come back and make a fresh start.”

DeAngelo bounced back and retired the Trojans in order in the second, third and fifth innings. After his early woes, he surrendered just one more hit; a fourth-inning leadoff single to Josh McDonald.

The Bulldogs tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third. Ford drew a leadoff walk in the frame and advanced to second when Jones uncorked an errant pickoff throw. Ford took third when Duncan grounded out and scored Bearden’s first run when Trammell grounded to first.

The Bulldogs then scored the tying run with two out on an RBI double by Knight that plated Poynter, who drew a free pass earlier in the frame.

In the fourth, Morristown West’s Tanner Collins relieved Jones on the mound. He gave up a leadoff double to Tyson Beach and yielded a one-out walk to DeAngelo before getting out of the inning.

DeAngelo said that despite Bearden’s lack off offensive production, that his team wasn’t frustrated.

“You just can’t get frustrated in those situations,” he said. “You just have to play.”

Collins had an effective outing. He gave up two hits and four walks while striking out two.

“I thought their second pitcher did a good job keeping us off-balance,” Rice said.

After Morristown West’s big seventh inning, the Bulldogs mounted a threat in the bottom of the frame but Trammell, who walked and Poynter, who doubled were stranded in scoring position at game’s end.

Trojans coach Nathan Fritz said that his squad’s defense came up big.

“We kind of changed our philosophy,” Fritz said. “We gave up some early walks but we were able to get out of those innings and that’s a credit to our defense.

“When we got into those positions earlier in the year, we would try too hard and we would make an error. Today, we tried to let the game come to us. We want to let the opponents beat themselves.”