The season ended maybe a bit too soon for Lance Rorex and his Lookout Valley High School baseball team, but Monday night's 4-1 home loss to Harriman in a Region 2-A semifinal won't diminish the relationships built on a senior-laden team.
The Yellow Jackets, the District 4 champions, lost despite allowing only three hits. However, six walks and three errors spelled doom on a night when the underdog visitors left the valley with the upset win.
"I told them after the game that I learned so much from those guys because of their work ethic, and that will always stand out," Rorex said. "They were just always at the field, even when I was ready to go home. Just a bunch of unbelievable character guys. Losing a game is no fun, but realizing I'm not going to see those guys after this is what makes it tough."
The Jackets end their stellar season at 28-8. Harriman (17-16) advances to the region title round.
A nightmarish sixth inning did in the Yellow Jackets. The visitors, who were a surprise No. 2 seed out of District 3, scored four runs on no hits, five walks and an error to turn around a 1-0 Lookout Valley lead.
Despite their record, the Blue Devils made it known early they would not be a quick out as pitcher Brandon Turpin mixed a well-located fastball with good offspeed pitches to keep the Lookout Valley hitters off balance. He faced the minimum through the first three innings, allowing a leadoff single in the third to Jarrett Adams, who was picked off first base.
The Jackets, who stranded a runner on third in the fourth inning, broke through against Turpin in the fifth on Nathan Hart's two-out RBI single, though they left two runners on.
The Harriman sixth started innocently enough for Lookout Valley pitcher Cole Janeway, who fanned the first batter, but control quickly escaped him with back-to-back walks as the lineup turned back over to the top.
Harriman's Turpin then reached on an infield error to load the bases. Janeway hit Titan Dayton to force in the tying run, then got what looked like a key strikeout of Marcus Nelson. However, Janeway walked Keaton Hall on a 3-2 pitch to bring in the go-ahead run and was replaced on the mound by reliever Jarrett Adams after going 2-0 on Bryson Willis.
Adams walked Willis to make it 3-1, then walked Peyton Snyder on a tight 3-2 pitch to plate the game's final run.
"We struggled a little bit throwing strikes that inning," said Rorex, whose team graduates five senior starters. "They were patient and did what a good team will do. It was kind of self-inflicted a little bit."
Turpin allowed a runner in each of the final two innings but worked through the trouble with ease to secure the upset win.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296; follow on Twitter @youngsports22