In the long history of the Scenic City Classic, the Baylor baseball team has managed just one championship.
And this year, with no hardware on the table due to a format change, the Red Raiders had a 4-0 Classic performance, capped off with two run-rule-shortened Saturday wins. They beat Rabun Gap 12-0 behind a two-hitter from Colton Jumper, and then with Swede Umbach getting his first varsity win by pitching the first four innings of a six-inning four-hitter, they outscored Red Bank 12-2.
"I think it went well," said Umbach, a junior who is named after his great-grandfather, the legendary Auburn wrestling coach. "I found a groove, but it was runs that won it for us. The offense did it for us all weekend."
Though the Red Raiders had only seven hits against Red Bank, they scored four runs on wild pitches or passed balls with runners on third. And the Lions committed three errors.
"If we'd made a bunch of errors in the tournament, I might be worried about heading in the wrong direction," Red Bank coach Trey Hicks said after the Lions went 0-4 in the tournament. "But we hit fairly well. We faced St. Benedict's No. 1 and 2 pitchers on Thursday. I wanted us to see tough competition and we did. I'm competitive and want us to win every game, but I know, and I think the players know, that we have a hard schedule that will eventually help us out."
Red Bank has been in similar circumstance, at one point reaching a double-digit string in losses before rebounding to earn a state tournament berth.
"We're not striving to lose 13 in a row and then get hot," Hicks said. "The last thing you want to do in that first weekend [tournament] is get out there and go through the motions."
But Hicks did agree that four straight night games (Tuesday through Friday) and three of those in less than favorable weather conditions had taken their toll.
"We looked tired and I think today we hit a wall," he said. "We're not deep enough yet in the pitching staff. Other than [Hagen] Wilkey, I think we threw a freshman and four sophomores."
Wilkey, who got two innings of relief Saturday, was the Lions' offensive standout with a solo homer, his second this year.
The day belonged, though, to the Red Raiders, who jumped from a 3-0 lead through two innings to an 8-0 advantage after three.
"Getting the runs always helps," Umbach said.
"I'd like to see Umbach work on his control a little more. If he does that he'll be a good pitcher," Baylor coach Gene Etter said. "He did get behind some guys 3-0 but came back to get the outs."
Leadoff man Taylor Maxey had two hits with three RBIs and a stolen base to go along with two runs scored for Baylor, which got two hits and two RBIs from Alex Armstrong.
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 ...
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