MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - For a brief moment the ball popped out of Chance Brown's glove and hung in the air. What happened next would decide the outcome of what had already been an emotional rollercoaster of a baseball game.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Decatur County Riverside's Dakota McCollum lifted a fly ball to right field that was tailing away from Brown, Silverdale Baptist Academy's sophomore outfielder. Brown turned for a better angle and reached his glove out just in time for the ball to drop into the pocket. But the ball popped out of the webbing and into the air before Brown reached out with his bare hand to catch it and drop it back into his glove for the final out.
And in that heart-stopping moment, Silverdale Baptist knocked off the three-time defending Class A state champions.
"I just tried not to panic," Brown said. "I didn't want us to lose it like that, so I kept my eye on the ball and when I saw it bounce up, I just grabbed it and put it back in my glove."
The Seahawks, who hadn't even won a district title prior to this season, are now just one win away from advancing to the state championship game. Silverdale again will play Decatur County Riverside today at 3 p.m. EDT.
That final play also capped a gutsy performance by Seahawks' senior Spencer Mossburg, who went the distance, scattering five hits and striking out four for the win.
With the game tied in the top of the seventh, Mossburg also singled to lead off the inning and later scored the go-ahead run when junior Matt Millard lined a 1-2 pitch sharply up the middle for a two-out RBI single.
Mossburg had also been responsible for scoring Silverdale's first run, leading off the game with a walk and eventually scoring on bases-loaded walk to Josiah Green.
"That game probably took years off my life," Seahawks coach John Adcock joked afterward. "We challenged Spencer before the game that this was his game. This was the defending state champions and he was our guy we wanted on the mound against them.
"He's been one of our leaders for his whole four-year career. And today he kept them down while we were struggling to find a way to score. Then he finds a way to help us score another run when we needed it most. He just finds ways to make plays for us. We really had several guys make huge plays for us today."
Riverside took advantage of two Silverdale errors in the sixth to tie the game. But with two out and the bases loaded later in the inning, Mossburg struck out Riverside's Jordan Goff looking with a wicked curve that dropped over the plate.
"To beat a good hitting team like that you have to have two pitches working for you and I'm glad my curveball was working," Mossburg said. "I just had to stay level-headed, hit the mitt, and do the things I know I can do. I'm kind of emotionally drained after that game now to be honest."
In the bottom of the seventh, with the top of the order coming up, Clint Fisher led off with a double off the centerfield wall, but Mossburg got the next two batters out on a strikeout and a weak grounder back toward the mound. After an intentional walk and another walk on a 3-2 pitch, Fisher had a chance to try to score on a wild pitch, but didn't get a good jump and trotted back to third as Seahawks' catcher Josh Bankston retrieved the ball along the third base line. McCollum then flew out dramatically to Brown in right.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.