Irish fights off Signal Mountain Eagles' rally for 9-8 win

Irish fights off Signal Mountain Eagles' rally for 9-8 win

March 19th, 2014 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Notre Dame runner Gage Miller slides safely into second as the ball comes free from Signal Mountain second baseman Jake Carmichael's glove during their baseball game Tuesday at Signal Mountain High School.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Notre Dame was on the wrong end of a Monday shellacking, and the Irish baseball players were eager to redeem and prove themselves Tuesday.

They did so early and late, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and then rallying to break an 8-8 tie with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 9-8 victory over host Signal Mountain.

It was part of District 7-AA's in-season tournament, which will continue through at least Monday when Signal and Chattanooga Christian conclude a game that was called Monday night due to heavy fog.

"We have a young team, and I've preached to them all season long you can't get too high and you can't get too low. You keep a steady pace," said Irish coach Greg Ellie, who was frazzled after his team saw its lead whittled away but rebounded. "Yesterday (a 13-1 loss) wasn't fun and parts of it today weren't fun, but, you know what, I'll take the end result."

The Irish bats were ripping early. They scored two runs in the first on a double by Alex Darras and a single from Quinton Buckman, then banged out four hits in a four-run second. Thomas McGuire and Josh Russell picked up RBIs on a walk and a groundout in the fourth as the Irish kept their lead at six, 8-2.

However, it came down to a two-out rally in the seventh. Connor Simpson got his third single in four trips, Jared Andrews reached on an error and Gage Miller loaded the bases when hit by a pitch. Simpson then lumbered home on a wild pitch.

"Bump [Signal coach Bumper Reese] is always going to put together a team that will fight like that," Ellie said. "I have a lot of respect for him and that program, and any time we can do that against a team like that it's a good day."

The Eagles, aided by two hit batsmen and a walk, scored six runs in the top of the fifth to tie it. Key hits were an RBI single by Garrett Hensley and a two-run double from Lee Nagle.

They were unable, though, to cash in with at least one runner in scoring position in the first, second, sixth and seventh innings.

"We made a few mistakes but we had opportunities, and the first two innings they hit it where we weren't. The first two innings they knocked the crap out of it," said Reese, who had only one senior on the field. "I was very proud of the guys coming down after being down 6-0. We never took the lead, but at least we tied it. I'm upset with the loss but I'm not upset with the way we lost. If we had laid down and gotten chicken-kicked after the first two innings, then I would have been angry."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.