CLEVELAND, Tenn. - David Dinger's pitching selection Friday was unexpected. The veteran Lookout Valley baseball coach decided to go with staff ace Hayden Turner against Cleveland, and it almost paid off.
However, Cleveland took advantage of two errors to post a 3-1 victory in an opening-round game of the Mountain Valley Invitational.
Dinger's Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Turner gave up just one earned run, but the defense behind the lefty was shaky twice too often.
"Defense was the difference," Dinger said. "Both pitchers threw the ball pretty well and Hayden gave us a chance to win, but we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage."
The tournament continues today at Grundy County, Cleveland, Sequatchie County and Whitwell with the championship game scheduled for late Sunday afternoon at Grundy.
Lookout Valley was supposed to be a host but was without power because of the storms that swept through the area Wednesday, so Cleveland coach Ted Carson offered to host. Too, the Yellow Jackets haven't practiced or played since Tuesday because of trees across both foul lines. Dinger said most of the players were out helping clean up the community Thursday.
They hit OK, getting seven hits to Cleveland's six, but they were unable to piece together any runs after the first when Turner and Matthew Allison singled before Cory McKaig got an RBI on a grounder to the right side with nobody covering first.
That mental mistake was one of the few miscues the Blue Raiders had. They had a couple of defensive gems, in fact. Left fielder Reed Allision made a diving catch to rob Matthew Allison of a hit with two out and a runner on in the fifth, and catcher Derek Murray threw out a runner at third after McKaig doubled to open the sixth. After a pop-up to shortstop, Carson Bethune doubled to left, but there was no one on in front of him.
"It looked like they might make a rally there in the sixth, so Murray throwing the guy out was big," Carson said.
Dylan Humble got the pitching win, his fourth in six tries, settling in after the first inning to pitch shutout ball the rest of the way. He finished with a seven-hitter.
"Both pitchers threw well. I thought Dylan did a good job of throwing strikes, and the defense played well behind him," Carson said.
Cleveland wasted no time tying the score. Leadoff man Jeb Scoggins doubled and Murray doubled him home in the bottom of the first inning.
The Blue Raiders took the lead in the third on consecutive singles from Robert Parr and Murray and an outfield error. Their final run came in the fifth. Tyler Shugart opened with a double, was sacrificed to third by Humble and scored on an infield error.
The Yellow Jackets snapped a six-game losing string after the loss to Cleveland with a 10-5 win over Greenbrier.
"That streak was beginning to feel like a hundred," Dinger said.
Batting in the leadoff position, Turner went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, Allison added two more hits and Corey Rogers had three RBIs.