CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Ooltewah left to celebrate. Soddy-Daisy left to practice.
"I really like these guys, and if we continue to play like this we only have another 42 hours or so together," Trojans coach Jared Hensley said Thursday after his team lost 5-1 to Ooltewah in the opening game of the District 5-AAA baseball tournament.
The Trojans managed just two hits. Owls junior Zach Thompson gave up a single in the first and then went five innings before giving up hit number two, a triple by Austin Hickey.
Thompson (5-0) had just two three-up/three-down innings but twice pitched out of jams-in-the-making when the Trojans advanced runners into scoring position. In the second inning, he walked the leadoff runner, struck out two and then surrendered another walk but ended the threat on a routine grounder to second.
In the sixth, when he gave up an unearned run, he had two down before Caden Ricketts singled to center. Then there were consecutive errors that allowed Ricketts' courtesy runner to score. Thompson induced a pop-up to third to end the inning.
He struck out 12 batters, walked two and hit one.
"I knew what to expect from watching them during our games in the regular season," said Thompson, who had 16- and 14-strikeout performances earlier this year. "I went in expecting to keep it away from them, but once I saw they couldn't hit the fastball I went right at them."
He's come a long way from when he was a freshman hoping to find a way onto the team.
"He really showed out when we got to the long-tossing program," Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox recalled. "The ball jumps off his hand, but he has worked very hard to get stronger and fitter."
Thompson was quite impressive from the other dugout's perspective.
"We were behind his fastball all night, and I attribute that to him," Hensley said. "He was pounding the strike zone, and we showed no ability to make adjustments."
Thompson had a two-run lead after the Owls' first at-bat. With two out, Cody Rhinehart reached on an error and T.J. Binder followed with an RBI triple. Kevin Dupree then doubled to left-center to score the second run.
The Owls touched Trojans starter Dalton Rogers for another run in the second when Drew Toth's single scored Logan Fugate, who reached on an error and advanced on Kyle Kapherr's sacrifice bunt.
After Soddy-Daisy scored its run, the Owls countered immediately. Dupree opened with a triple and scored on Drew Williams' double down the left-field line. Kapherr then singled Williams home.
While Ooltewah plays again today, facing host Bradley Central, Soddy-Daisy takes a day off before joining losers-bracket play Saturday.
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 ...