Rain doesn't save Cleveland from loss

Rain doesn't save Cleveland from loss

March 31st, 2012 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

For the third straight weekend rain is playing havoc with Chattanooga area baseball tournaments. Central's Pounder Classic is the latest, joining four tournaments the first weekend Tennessee teams could officially play and last weekend's Ooltewah Invitational.

Central got some games in Thursday but was unable to play Friday. Co-host Hixson got in one game Friday but the others were canceled by lightning, which served also as a precursor of the ensuing rain.

Cleveland coach Ted Carson wishes the rain had come a little sooner, certainly before his Blue Raiders' 3-0 loss to Morristown West could be official. Cleveland has lost three of its last four games and failed to score a run in three of those, including back-to-back defeats to rival Walker Valley on Monday and Tuesday.

It was partially Friday's opponent but mostly the Blue Raiders' offensive ineffectiveness that led to the 3-0 loss to Morristown West. They managed just three hits, and even when they got a runner or two on they ran themselves out of scoring opportunities.

In the first inning leadoff man Tyler Shugart worked a walk and stole second. However, a bunt attempt was virtually right back to the pitcher and Shugart was cut down at third. In the second, Jake Moats led off with a single but was stranded at third after two strikeouts - one on a called third strike - and a fly ball to right.

"On-base miscues," Carson assessed. "We didn't get guys over. We didn't manufacture runs when we needed to."

Another Cleveland opportunity was wasted in the third when West catcher Neal Kyle nailed a runner trying to steal second with two outs. Moats reached on a one-out error in the fourth and Jackson Earle walked. However, with Moats on third, the Blue Raiders botched a squeeze bunt and Moats, who had two of his team's three hits, was dead meat on a throw from Kyle to third baseman and University of Tennessee signee Andrew Lee.

Cleveland got a runner as far as second base in the first, second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings, basically wasting sophomore Connor Mitchell's first pitching start. Morristown West led off the fourth and seventh innings with doubles by Austin Bishop and Austin Collins, and each led to a run off Mitchell. However, he had one-two-three second and sixth innings and pitched to just 28 batters in the seven innings.

The left-hander walked two, hit one batter, struck out one and induced seven ground-ball outs and six infield pop-ups. He also picked a runner off.

"Our little lefty did a good job. He threw strikes and worked out of a couple of jams," Carson said.

With Friday's games washed out at Central, Pounders coach and tournament director Glen Carter revised the schedule and hoped to begin playing games there at 11 this morning.

Hixson coach Ted Mulder tarped his field after the games were canceled, and the Wildcats facility also should be good for games today.