Boyd-Buchanan scored four seventh-inning runs for an improbable 8-7 baseball victory Thursday over Silverdale Baptist Academy.
The win gave the Buccaneers a share of the District 5-A regular-season championship, but they had to win by 10 or more to shove the visiting Seahawks out of the No. 1 seed when the district tournament gets under way next Friday. Silverdale shelled the Bucs 10-1 on Tuesday and entered Thursday's game at Boyd-Buchanan with a decided advantage in the tiebreaking run differential.
Of course, Bucs coach Josh Rider was delighted with the comeback spark his club showed after falling behind 6-0 and 7-1.
Sharing is better than coming up empty-handed.
"No doubt," he said. "I was glad to see us respond. For 12 innings they had dominated us, and it was good to see us finally answer the bell and finally start hitting the baseball like we know we can."
Bucs leadoff man Thatcher Smith was hot all game, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI heading into his last at-bat. Then he took a 3-2, two-out fastball that was probably a tad low and outside and punched it into right field, allowing Reid Smith with the winning run.
"On my previous at-bat the umpire had called two pitches just like that strikes. I just had to go with it," Smith said. "I don't know if [a hit] can feel any better that."
While Smith got credit for the winning RBI, John Hale could not have found a better way to set the table. He also came to the plate with two outs and roped a two-strike single deep enough into right-center to score two runs and tie the game.
"John has been struggling a little offensively, and we had him No. 9 (in the batting order) hoping to get him a few more fastballs," Rider said. "That was a huge hit. He didn't get all of it, but he got it enough."
Hale, the tailback who missed most of his senior football season with a leg injury, is still three months away from an expected fully recovered date. He was healthy enough to come up with the hit against the Bucs' biggest rival and at a crucial time. It took some of the string from personally disappointing seasons.
"That was my biggest 'come-through' right there. I had been struggling with the bat but came up clutch at the right moment," he said.
"The comeback was big for us because it shows we aren't going to quit," Rider said. "We were kind of dead the first time out, and we made a point of making sure nobody was just going through the motions and expecting people to lay over for us. We knew they weren't for sure. They're a great ballclub, but it shows what we can do and gives us confidence because I think we'll see them a few more times down the road."
The Seahawks squandered a quality performance by Spencer Mossburg, who struck out eight and allowed just three hits and a run before tiring in the sixth. But Boyd-Buchanan also wasted opportunities as Skylar Anderson matched Mossburg pitch for pitch through the first four innings. Jim Cardwell, who took over the pitching with his team down 7-3, worked the top of the seventh and got the win.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765.
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 ...