MURFREESBORO — Ian Hubbard’s shirtless but joy-filled sprint around the deepest portions of MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field, chased by all of his Knoxville Catholic teammates, started in right field.
Actually, it started at first base after Hubbard, a senior standout center fielder and the team’s clean-up hitter, crushed a hard line drive to center field with two outs and the bases loaded to give the Irish (31-9 final record) a walkoff 4-3 Division II-AA victory versus Christ Presbyterian Academy Thursday evening, May 25, that earned the program its first baseball state crown.
“It’s a great feeling; I was able to carry (over) some success I’ve had this year,” said Hubbard, who had two hits and two RBI total, as Catholic began state tourney play with a 2-0 win against CPA (29-13) Tuesday, May 24, before edging Lipscomb Academy (25-11) 6-4 Wednesday, May 24.
“He deserved it, he’s put in so many hours behind the scenes trying to get better,” KCHS head coach Caleb Moore said.
Winning pitcher Daniel Parris, a Tennessee Vols signee and the team’s regular third baseman, went the first six innings, allowing two earned runs, six hits and five walks with five strikeouts. “ I didn’t have my best stuff, but I gave it all I could — and I am so thankful for the defense I’ve had all year,” the senior said.
Jacob Camfield relived Parris in the seventh, allowing two hits but inducing a flyout to end the threat.
In the KCHS seventh, third baseman Ben Sompayrac was hit by a pitch with one out before shortstop Hudson Lutterman’s two-out single put runners at first and second base. Following a wild pitch, Parris was intentionally walked setting the stage for Hubbard.
Other Irish hits came from Sompayrac, second baseman Ryan Theobald, left fielder Frank Spence and catcher Joey Lamattina, with Spence’s single and Lamattina’s RBI single part of Catholic’s three-run first inning, which answered a CPA run in the top of the first.
Sweeping powerful East Region rival Baylor in Chattanooga to earn the state trip — having lost all regular season games versus the Red Raiders, “we got hot at the right time ,” Moore said. “That’s what playoff baseball is all about.”