It was cold for a spring afternoon -- 42 degrees and a stiff wind forcing fans into heavy coats and under blankets and quilts -- so the scene wasn't necessarily conducive to baseball or a pitchers' duel.
Yet in a key District 7-AA game and snow showers earlier in the day having abated, winter weather and the pitching duel were the main courses. Senior Grant Hensley got the best of Grundy County and sophomore starter Houston Mainord, allowing Signal Mountain's Eagles to escape with a 3-2 win.
The victory allowed the host Eagles to move within a game of the district-leading Yellow Jackets, and the two will play again today in Coalmont.
"It's the rubber match tomorrow, and I guess it's for first place, although I'm not dead certain of that," Signal coach Bumper Reese said. "This was a big win, though. We always play each other close and I knew it was going to be a tight game. It always is against them."
Signal didn't put it away until the bottom of the seventh with two outs. The hard-fought deciding run came on a pair of errors. Walter Gailmard reached on a throwing error, stole second and then scored the winner on a second infield error.
"It's unfortunate to some extent the way it ended, because both teams had pretty much played error-free," Reese said.
The Eagles scored a pair in the first and rested on that until the seventh. Garrett Hensley walked and stole second, coming around on Charlie Trageser's single to left field. With two out, Chris Feemster walked and Walter Gailmard provided the second run with a single to right-center.
Grundy cut the lead in half in the top of the second. Cole Johnson walked and then scored on Schylar Burgess' double to left-center.
The two pitchers had their way until the seventh. Hensley and Mainord each allowed just three hits.
"Both pitched great games. We were fortunate to get a couple of runs off Houston in the first. He has had a really good year for them," Reese said. "Grant threw extremely well, one of his best games."
Hensley finished with seven strikeouts and walked just one while hitting no batters.
"The infield really backed me up," he said. "My changeup was working, but when they put it in play my infield did the work."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...