KNOXVILLE — Bearden High School’s baseball team jumped to a fast start in its game Thursday, April 7, but the Bulldogs couldn’t quite get the knockout punch and had to go the distance against Cookeville in the opening round of the Diamond/DeMarini Classic.
Bearden notched a 15-9 win over the Cavaliers on a chilly early-April night at Phil Garner Ballpark.
“The credit has to go to [Cookeville],” Bulldogs coach John Rice said. “Their pitchers made pitches and they competed hard. We had several chances to end this thing early,
“The first one was in the bottom of the fourth and their pitcher, who was all over the place at times, made some big pitches and got out of those innings.”
Bearden, which improved to 14-4 with the win over the Cavaliers (13-5), scored took a
2-0 lead in the bottom of the
first inning after starting pitcher Shawn DeAngelo retired Cookeville in order in the top half of the frame.
The Bulldogs did damage after Cavaliers starter T.J. Webb got the first two BHS hitters of the game out. Bearden’s two-out rally started with a double by Brandon Trammell. Trammell came home with the game’s first run when Clark Poynter reached on an error.
Paul Underwood made the score 2-0 when his single plated Poynter with the second unearned run of the inning.
Bearden extended its advantage to 2-0 in the second as it again took advantage of a miscue by the Cavaliers. With one out, Prater Knight struck out but reached base when the third strike was a wild pitch. He came home on a double by Bryson Ford.
DeAngelo pitched around a two-out single by Cookeville center fielder and leadoff man Stephen Mills. Mills reached second on a wild pitch. He was, however, stranded when Taylor Hall flew out to center.
The Bulldogs scored three more runs in the third with the aid of two walks and a hit batter. Thomas Wilson had a two-run single and Ford later drove in another run with a single to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
The Cavaliers pulled to within 6-3 in the top of the fourth as DeAngelo labored and the Bulldogs defense struggled. Kade Sullivan and Joshua South opened the inning with back-to-back singles before DeAngelo plunked Cody Hutcherson to load the bases.
A Bearden error led to two runs for the visitors before A.D. Pugh drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to cut the Bulldogs’ lead in half.
“They hung in there and like coach Rice said, they played a great game,” Knight said of the Cavaliers. “It was good to come out and get some hits.”
Jacob Piggott entered to pitch in the bottom of the fourth and he surrendered six runs to the Bulldogs in the inning.
Poynter had a three-run double in the inning. Trammell had an RBI when he drew a bases-loaded walk. Ford added a scoring single. A multitude of walks, wild pitches and errors helped the Bulldogs score two more runs and take a 12-3 lead by inning’s end.
Cookeville, however, didn’t go away. The Cavaliers got an RBI double by Hutcherson and a scoring single from South. Cade Smith also drove home a run on a fielder’s choice to make the score 12-6.
The Bulldogs nearly ended things in the fifth when Underwood led off the frame with a homer and Knight belted a two-run shot to make the score 15-6 before the inning came to a halt with a potential game-winning run in scoring position.
Poynter was pleased to see his team manufacture an offensive explosion.
“It was good for Prater to hit the home run and it feels good to get a lot of good hits,” Poynter said. “Hopefully, this will keep us going for the rest of the season.
“They played a good game and they didn’t quit.”
After a scoreless sixth, Cookeville plated three runs in the seventh leaving coach Butch Chaffin feeling positive.
“John’s a good friend of mine and when you play his teams, you have to be ready to go from the first pitch,” Chaffin said. “It was tough after we got down 6-0 and it would’ve been easy for our kids to quit.
“I have young kids at key spots and they really hung tough and battled hard.”
Bearden (16-5) went on to notch tournament wins over Mercer County (Ky.) and Mt. Juliet. The Bulldogs lost to Warren County.