The Soddy-Daisy baseball team persevered Friday night at Tom Higgins Field.
After taking a four-run punch in the mouth in the first inning of their Class AAA sectional against Tullahoma, the Trojans rallied and advanced to next week’s state tournament with a 7-6 win.
The game was tied at 6 in the bottom of the sixth when Damian DeMatteo slapped an RBI single to left field, bringing in Talon Harris from third base for what turned out to be the winning run.
“Since last year, when we got put out in this game — we were at Columbia — ever since then I just dreamed about this moment,” said DeMatteo, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
Soddy-Daisy (26-12) quickly got behind in the first when the Wildcats (19-19) jumped on starting pitcher Dalton Rogers. Tullahoma led 4-0 with two outs when Rogers was pulled and Jake Leffew took the mound.
Leffew held the Wildcats to two runs and three hits over the next 5 1/3 innings, which gave the Trojans a chance to get in the game.
“I just knew I had to come in and throw strikes, and that’s what I tried to do,” Leffew said. “I just knew I had to keep my team in it.”
Tullahoma starter David Hess, a Tennessee Tech signee, was sharp in the first two innings but lost his control in the third. Hess walked the bases loaded and DeMatteo’s two-run single to left field got the Trojans going, as well as the announced crowd of 401.
After Leffew set Tullahoma down in order in the top of the fourth, including two of his four strikeouts, Soddy-Daisy belted two singles in the bottom of the inning, ending Hess’s night on the mound.
Tullahoma’s pitcher changed — Justus Sheffield was brought in — but the Wildcats’ struggles continued. Soddy-Daisy scored four runs on four hits and three walks in the inning to take a 6-4 lead.
“The team that allows the most free passes, the other team’s usually going to win,” said Tullahoma coach Brad White, whose club walked eight batters.
The Wildcats tied the game in the fifth by taking advantage of two Soddy-Daisy errors.
In the sixth, Harris hit a one-out double to right and Sheffield went to a 3-0 count to Daniel Crawley before being replaced by his brother, Jordan Sheffield. A ball and an intentional walk later, the bases were loaded for DeMatteo.
“I knew our team was going to stay up [emotionally], and I knew if we had any chance we were going to shoot for it,” he said.
Taylor Dalton had a double and a single and Crawley added a two-run double for the Trojans. Justus Sheffield had an RBI double and a single to lead Tullahoma.
n Columbia Central 2, Walker Valley 0: At Columbia, David Horne made himself the winning pitcher in relief with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Walker Valley’s Bobby Towne was the only player with two hits in the game.
The Mustangs ended their season 22-14.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...