STATE BASEBALL SECTIONALS
Tullahoma at Soddy-Daisy, 7
Walker Valley at Columbia, 7:30
Livingston Academy at Polk County, 5
East Hamilton at DeKalb County, 5:30
Marion County at Friendship Christian, 1
Jackson County at South Pittsburg, 2
Baylor became the first Chattanooga-area team to earn a spot in next week’s TSSAA state baseball tournament by taking both ends of a Thursday doubleheader from Pope John Paul II.
“I don’t think, though, that we’ll be the last,” Baylor coach Gene Etter said following the Red Raiders’ 12-10 and 9-0 victories over the visiting Knights.
Six other area teams could play their way into their respective classification tournaments today or tonight. In Class AAA, Soddy-Daisy is at home and Walker Valley on the road; in Class AA, Polk County plays at home while East Hamilton travels; and in Class A, South Pittsburg is at home and Marion County is on the road.
Baylor had its hands full in the first game, blowing out to an 8-0 lead before PJP rallied with five runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and four in the top of the seventh.
“That first game was amazing,” Etter said. “There were a couple of times we were close to wrapping it up and they came roaring back. You have to give them a lot of credit.”
The key inning for Baylor was the sixth, after the Knights had closed to within 8-5 after being shut out for four innings by Red Raiders starting pitcher Jeff Burke. Gavin Gibson, who went 3-for-4 with a first-inning solo homer, singled home a courtesy runner for catcher Spencer Craig, who had singled. Then, with Tyler Maxey and Gibson aboard, Vanderbilt-bound senior Will Cooper unloaded a three-run homer to right-center.
The Red Raiders had 15 hits in that one to offset four errors. Maxey and Gibson had three hits and Cooper, Burke, Brandon Robertson and Blaine Booker added two hits each.
Etter turned the first game over to Buddy Lindsey with a couple of outs in the seventh, and the junior got the save, stranding the tying run at first. It was his first save of the season.
Lindsey then came back and pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout to nail down Baylor’s first state trip since 2008.
“I sure didn’t expect [the save], but I think I got warmed up for the second game,” Lindsey said. “I had been giving up more hits, but the defense played well. That’s the reason I got the three-hitter.”
His defense turned double plays in the third and fifth innings. In the third the Knights had the bases loaded with one out and Cooper snagged a sizzling line drive and flipped the ball to second baseman Booker to end the inning. In the sixth, Cooper started a 6-4-3 double play with runners on first and second.
Lindsey, though, was effective, throwing just 89 pitches to get his seventh win against two losses.
“He depends a lot on off-speed pitches, and when he does throw his fastball it looks pretty quick getting up there,” Etter said.
As they had in the first game, the Raiders jumped ahead early with a three-spot on Gibson’s homer, a walk to Cooper and singles from Burke and Tipton. They made it 4-0 on Cooper’s second-inning RBI double and 5-0 on a run-scoring single from Tipton.
Cooper broke the game wide open with a three-run homer in the sixth.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...