For a guy that doesn't get a shot at everyday starts and stardom, Austin Calfee wears the hero's epaulets fairly well.
With the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a scoreless game, Calfee skipped a single between shortstop and third to hand Bradley Central a 1-0 victory over Soddy-Daisy and the District 5-AAA baseball championship.
"Ty [King] had been pitching well. The bases were loaded. They called me, and I just had to get my job done," the junior said. "I was looking fastball, I got it and managed to get it through."
The hit ended a dramatic pitchers' duel, won by King over gutsy Trojans sophomore Colin Kearney.
"Colin was phenomenal. He had a two-hit shutout through six," Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley said. "I asked him before the game if he could get us through the first couple of innings, and he just kept going out there and keeping them off balance."
Though he took the loss, Kearney matched King, Bradley's 6-foot-6 ace, out for out.
"He made us look silly at bat. He spotted that fastball all day," Bradley coach Travis Adams said. "We hit a couple of balls hard and they made good plays, but for six innings he got our leadoff guy out, which takes us out of the stuff we like to do."
Kearney left the game after giving up a single to Logan Blackwell and then seeing a fielders-choice on a sacrifice bunt botched.
"Logan's at-bat was a rally-starter at the best of times," Adams said.
With two runners on and one out, pincher-hitter Tyler Carpenter got hit by a pitch to load the bases and set the stage for Calfee.
"He isn't an everyday starter, but he keeps working hard and never pouts about not starting and you have to be proud of a kid that keeps his head up and keeps working hard," Adams said. "He's a youngster who's a great teammate with a great attitude. His play today is a testament to the type kid and type player he is."
King's performance helped set the stage for Calfee's heroics.
He finished with nine strikeouts in a complete game performance.
"It was all right," King said when asked if he had his best stuff. "I was throwing my fastball and my curve for strikes, and I knew the infield would back me up."
Soddy-Daisy knew what was coming.
"We struggled with him early in the year, too," Hensley said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. We hit a couple of balls pretty hard, and their outfield did a great job tracking them down."
Both teams advance to the Region 3-AAA tournament Monday. Bradley will host while Soddy-Daisy will travel to the midstate area.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.