For a brief moment the same magic that encompassed McCallie's thrilling 2022 Division II-AA state title run seemed to carry over to this year's Spring Fling.
In a rematch of last year's state championship game the Blue Tornado refused to go down quietly, but ultimately fell 6-5 to Lipscomb Academy to begin the double-elimination state tournament Tuesday at Wilson Central High School.
McCallie senior Hudson Calhoun was locked in at the plate as he clobbered a pair of 2-run home runs over the right and left field fences. The Ole Miss signee's final blast and seventh home run of the year brought his team within a run while down to their final out.
"During the middle of the season I changed my stance and it has been starting to come together" said Calhoun, who also made a great catch hanging over into his home team's dugout. "Coach (Tim) Costo has helped me a ton. He knows his hitting and I trust him. We have gotten into a little bit of a rhythm with my hitting and I think I am finding my stride. I am hunting fastball and trying to do damage."
The Blue Tornado (20-14) inflicted damage on themselves as their bats were silenced in key situations by Mustangs' ace Miller Green, a Georgia Tech signee. The southpaw pitched out of a pair of big jams early when McCallie could not score despite having runners on second and third with less than two outs and another time stranding the bases loaded.
Green also jump-started Lipscomb (25-9) by golfing a low changeup for a 2-run moonshot home run in the top of the first inning off Calhoun, who combined for nine strikeouts with Ben Propes on the mound.
"I really liked our resilience," Costo said. "We faced a kid that is extremely legit and was throwing very well. We competed, but we struck out (11 times) too much and in critical spots. But I think we are going to bounce back tomorrow. Now, we just have to fight for our life.
"We have Olin Johnson going tomorrow and we expect him to fill up the strike zone. If we play a little defense and hit a little bit, we are going to be okay. We just have to win tomorrow and see what happens."
McCallie will play either Knoxville Catholic or CPA on Wednesday at 11 ET.
The Blue Tornado scored all five runs over the last three innings, which included an RBI groundout by Wallace Gibson. Zach Porter had a strong day as the McCallie catcher had a hit and walked twice while throwing out a runner.
"We couldn't come out on top this time, but that only fuels us more to win another," Calhoun said. "We want another rematch and to get back to that title game. We just have to focus and get rid of this loss."
Centennial 4, Walker Valley 1: The Mustangs (22-14) scored their lone run in the top of the fourth as Tucker Ownby was brought home on a double by Michael Pledge. Logan Wallace went 2-for-2 in the defeat.
Goodpasture 6, Silverdale Baptist 0: Senior Brody Lamb pitched well enough to win, but a pair of errors put the game out of reach for the Seahawks (34-6). Lamb allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out six over a 101-pitch complete game. Mr. Baseball finalist Turner Junkins had half of his team's four hits, while Ian Reagan and Owen Phillips each doubled in the defeat.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.