Trailing 6-3, the Bears got a solo run in the bottom of the sixth and then rallied for three runs in the seventh to pull out the 7-6 victory over Soddy-Daisy to remain unbeaten in district play.
“We played bad enough to get beat, but our guys didn’t give up and Caleb (Pippenger) really came through,” declared Bradley head coach Travis Adams. “We really dodged a bullet.”
The Bears will now play co-host for the Ooltewah Invitational, opening against archrival Cleveland High this evening at 7:30.
The Blue Raiders will take on Boyd-Buchanan in the event’s opening game at the McKenzie Baseball Complex at 5 p.m.
On Friday, Polk County and Boyd-Buchanan will tangle at 5 before the Wildcats square off against Bradley at 7:30. Saturday morning at 11, the Bears will face Franklin.
Cleveland will play Franklin Friday at 6:30 in Ooltewah, while the host Owls will face Polk County this evening at 7. Tournament semifinals, championship and matchup games will be played Saturday afternoon and evening.
The Bears (6-2, 4-0 District 5-AAA) got on the scoreboard first on the blustery cold Wednesday evening with a pair of first-inning runs.
Senior Brently White led off the with a walk and Pippenger stroked a single to set up the scores. Junior Jacob Barnes, who went 3-for-4 on the night, ripped a two-out single to right field to plate both White and courtesy runner Chandler Duggan.
After going down in 10 pitches in the opening inning, Soddy-Daisy (0-5, 0-4) was more patient in the second as Austin Hickey led off with a double before the next three batters drew walks to force in a run and then two more scored on a single.
Bradley got out of the jam by catching a runner in a rundown between third and home before starter Jacob Fowler closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The visitors added another run to their lead when sophomore Andy Wright blasted the first pitch of the third inning over the left field wall, but the Bears got that run back in the bottom of the frame when junior Baylor Terrell roped a two-out single to plate senior Jacob Maynard, who had walked.
Neither team scored again until the sixth inning when the Trojans once again took advantage of a trio of walks, plus added a single and an infield hit to plate a pair for their biggest lead of the night at 6-3.
A two-out double by Maynard to bring in senior Charles Chavis, who had walked, got one run back in the bottom of the inning.
With their backs against the wall in the game’s final at bat, the Bears came up big. Terrell opened the rally with a single before senior Ryan Blair ripped a double down the left field line to bring him around the bases.
After junior Cal Pickel was hit by a pitch, White sacrificed the potential tying and winning runs to second and third base with a bunt. Chavis then drew a walk to load the bases and set up Pippenger’s heroics.
The four-year starter brought the game to a close when he blasted a shot over the left fielder’s head that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall to bring in both Duggan (who was running for Blair) and Pickel.
“We had said just before that at bat that our 7-8-9 guys were going to have to set the table for us to get to the top of the order if we were going to have a chance, and they did,” related coach Adams.
Senior Nate Mills (1-1) earned the pitching victory, hurling the final 4 1/3 innings, striking out three and giving up just two hits, but walking four and allowing a pair of earned runs. “Nate came on and gave us a chance to win,” declared Adams.
Along with Barnes going 3-for-4 at the dish, Pippenger, Terrell and Blair each had a pair of hits, while Chavis reached base three times with a single and a pair of walks, plus he stole two bases.
Bradley and Soddy split their junior varsity games the last two nights, with the Bears using a five-run rally in the top of the sixth Tuesday night for a 6-2 victory, while the junior Trojans claimed a 7-6 win last night.
Brandon Thompson was the winning pitcher for Bradley in the opener with Chandler Hamilton driving in a pair of runs. Duggan had two hits on Wednesday with Austin Calfee getting saddled with the loss.
Soddy-Daisy 031 002 0 — 6 5 1
Bradley Central 201 001 3 — 7 13 2
WP: Nate Mills (1-1) 4.1 IP, 3 Ks, 4 BB, 2 hits, 2 ER. LP: Tyler Westmoreland. HR: Andy Wright (SD). 2B: Austin Hickey (SD); Caleb Pippenger, Jacob Maynard, Ryan Blair (BC); RBI: Jacob Barnes 2, Pippenger 2, Blair, Baylor Terrell, Maynard (BC). Highlights: Barnes 3-4, 2 RBI; Charles Chavis 1-3, 2 BB, 2 SB, run; Pippenger 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, game winning hit; Terrell 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Blair 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Maynard 2B, RBI, run (BC). Records: Soddy-Daisy 0-5, 0-4 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 6-2, 4-0 District 5-AAA.