MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Polk County is playing baseball again at 11 this morning.
Giving up three first-inning runs, the Wildcats came out on the short end in the Class AA state tournament Tuesday night, falling 5-3 to DeKalb County.
They'll play Christian Academy of Knoxville, an 8-1 loser to Lexington in the first game Tuesday at Blackman.
It isn't where the Wildcats wanted to be, but they have been in similar situations. They finished third in the District 5-AA and made it to the district championship game. Then they went on the road as 5-AA runner-up and beat District 6-AA winner Red Bank before moving on to the Region 3-AA championship and defeating East Hamilton.
They then earned a state berth with a five-inning win over Livingston Academy.
The bugaboos that have plagued Polk at times this year were lurking over the Wildcats' shoulders against DeKalb.
Starting pitcher Jared Allen, the staff anchor, walked two in the first inning, when DeKalb scored three runs. Polk committed two errors defensively and a couple more while running the bases.
"I didn't do what I needed to do. The scouting report we had said throw over the plate and string together a few hits," said Allen (9-3). "They say one bad inning always beats you, and that's what happened tonight."
Allen walked the first two batters, and those advanced on a single by Shane Salley and an error.
By the time Allen settled in, holding DeKalb to just three more hits, the Wildcats were staring at a 3-0 deficit.
They battled back into it with two runs in the bottom of the first and actually had a chance to take the lead, but a runner got picked off at second base. DeKalb got two more in the bottom of the fourth, and another Polk rally was cut short when one Wildcat ran nearly up the back of another and the end result was a sliding out at the plate.
"We got one picked off in the first and then had another baserunning blunder in the fifth when we could have had the bases loaded and [cleanup hitter Michael] Hargrove in the box," coach Bill Triplett said. "If we don't throw the ball over the plate and play good defense, we'll be going home after two [games]."