The standing-room-only crowd at Soddy-Daisy High School was ready to erupt at the beginning of Wednesday night's Region 3-AAA baseball championship game against Bradley Central.
The Bears didn't give the home side much to cheer about, scoring five runs in the first two innings on their way to a 7-3 win.
Bradley Central (19-11) will host Lincoln County in the sectional round at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the winner moving on to the state tournament at next week's Spring Fling in Murfreesboro. Their sectional was moved up from Friday due to Lincoln County's graduation ceremony.
Soddy-Daisy (20-12-1) will travel to Riverdale in another sectional that will be played Friday as scheduled.
The quick start is a recurring postseason theme for the Bears, who were the instigators again Wednesday at Soddy-Daisy. Dylan Standifer and Riley Black each had a pair of hits over the first two innings and each went deep in the second, Standifer with a solo shot and Black a two-run blast to make it 5-0.
The runs were more than enough for senior lefty Jake Thompson, who gave up one unearned run through the first six innings.
"It was big, especially for Jake, because once we got the runs and then added on more, you could see him settle down," Bradley Central coach Travis Adams said of his starting pitcher. "It's a comfort thing, for sure. You get the lead, a senior on the mound and facing a tough lineup, having that lead allowed him to breath a little bit."
Standifer led off the game with a single, with Caden Sherlin working a walk against Soddy-Daisy starter Chris Branam. Black followed with a single to load the bases for Thompson, who walked to bring in the first run. Ryan Giovengo drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
Standifer ended Branam's night with his one-out homer the next inning and, after Sherlin's single, Black took reliever Wyatt Warren deep before the huge crowd had even settled in.
"Knowing Wyatt, he's a good pitcher with a good curveball, but luckily for me he threw me a fastball and I stayed down on it," Black said of his homer. "The past two games we started with two runs, and we've done that a lot in the postseason. That sparked our offense and defense, and I know it helped Jake settle in."
Thompson allowed at least one baserunner in each inning, but he found ways to escape big trouble. The Trojans scored one run in the fourth on an error and Landon Maynor's RBI single, but the Bears answered with two runs in the fifth, thanks to three walks and three wild pitches.
Standifer and Black each went 3-for-4 at the plate for the winners, while Spencer Gore joined Maynor with RBIs for the Trojans.