HVA wins three to make return to region tournament

Hardin Valley Academy’s baseball team took a step toward a return trip to Murfreesboro Monday night.

The Hawks clinched a second consecutive berth to the Region 2-AAA Tournament with a 7-6 comeback victory over Farragut in the District 4-AAA winner’s bracket final at John Heatherly Field at the Ballpark in Farragut.

HVA, which fell behind early when the top-seeded Admirals scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning, got the game winning hit when Matt Martin singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh to erase a 6-5 deficit.

The Hawks (26-7-1), the defending Class AAA State Champions, also got a two-run homer from Drew Parks in the contest. His digger help the Hawks pull to within 4-2 in the second inning. He also picked up a save as he made an appearance in relief on the mound.

The comeback win culminated successful stay in the district tournament for the Hawks

that began with a 2-1 victory over Heritage Friday night and continued with a 4-2 win

over second seeded Bearden

on Saturday. Monday’s victory earned the Hawks a night off Tuesday and a spot in the regional semifinals, which begin on Monday.

HVA was scheduled to play in the championship round on Wednesday but results were not available at press time.

Hardin Valley knotted the game 4-4 in the fourth as Trevor Lloyd and Dylan Harris had RBI singles.

Landen Beyer had an RBI single later in the frame to give the Hawks a 5-4 advantage.

The Admirals (33-5) battled back and regained the lead before the Hawks went ahead for good in the top of the seventh.

In the district tournament opener, senior Tyler Thompson experienced a wide range of emotions.

Thompson got caught roaming off first base after he singled in the first inning in the Hawks’ 2-1 victory over Heritage Friday night at Bearden’s Phil Garner Ballpark.

In the fourth inning, he committed an error that enabled the Mountaineers to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

But Thompson, the Austin Peay signee, isn’t one to let mistakes get to him. And on this night, he became a hero. His sacrifice fly drove in the winning run in the bottom of the fifth.

He then pitched two scoreless innings to help third-seeded Hardin Valley outlast Heritage and move on in the winner’s bracket.

“We’re excited to get out of here with this win,” Thompson said. “This was a great overall team win for us. Heritage is a great team. Tonight, we were just a little tougher.”

He also noted that he wasn’t shaken by his early mistakes.

“I don’t dwell on the past,” said Thompson, who fanned four of the seven Heritage hitters he faced en route to recording a save. “You can’t worry about errors, those things happen.

“I just went in there and I pounded the zone.”

Hawks coach Joe Michalski said that Thompson is extremely valuable to his squad, which began defense of its Class AAA State Championship with the postseason victory over the sixth seeded Mountaineers, who were eliminated Saturday by William Blount, the tournament’s No. 7 seed and finished the 2016 campaign with a 16-16 record.

“He does so much for us,” Michalski said of Thompson, who plays shortstop when he’s not on the mound. “This was an outstanding game and he’s been an outstanding player for us.”

Senior Kevin Marth started Friday night for the Hawks and went five innings as he and Heritage starter Jordan Davis were locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel over the first two frames.

Heritage scored first in the top of the third. Mountaineers left fielder Chandler Clark and third baseman Shane Weakley drew consecutive walks to open the inning. Marth then struck out Jared McDonald before Kyle Valentine reached on an error. Clark, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on the play to give Heritage a 1-0 lead.

The Mountaineers held the upper hand until the Hawks pulled even in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Ryder Green and Thompson drew back-to-back free passes.

Green came home with the tying run when Martin singled to make it 1-1.

The Hawks claimed the lead with one out in the bottom of the fifth.

Harris started the rally with a double off the wall. Beyer reached on an error and Davis issued an intentional walk to Green to load the bases. That set the stage for Thompson, who flew to right. The ball nearly left the park but Heritage right fielder Daniel Price hauled it in at the warning track. Harris came home with the eventual game-winning run.

Thompson retired the Mountaineers in order in the sixth before having to pitch around a walk in the top of the seventh.

Despite the tough loss, Heritage coach Robbie Bennett was pleased with his team’s effort.

“This was a good game,” he said. “They just made a few more plays than we did.

“Jordan threw a great game for us. He kept us in the game. That was the best game that I’ve seen him pitch in a long time. He always does a great job for us.”

Michalski agreed.

“He does a great job,” Michalski said of Davis. “He had times where he got behind our hitters and came back and made some good pitches.

“Heritage is a great team. They’re the best sixth seed that you’ll find anywhere.”

Hardin Valley continued its winning ways on Saturday when it knocked off the second-seeded and host Bulldogs 4-2.

Green and Parks both homered for the Hawks. Green finished the game with three hits for HVA, which opened a 4-0 lead thanks to a pair of runs in the sixth and seventh innings respectively. Harris and Thompson collected two hits each.

Green started on the mound and threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He walked four and struck out five before giving way to Thompson, who allowed both Bearden runs, although only one was earned. He also had four walks and five strikeouts as he picked up his second save of the postseason.

Bryson Ford had three hits for the Bulldogs, who scored twice in the bottom of the seventh.