The Wildcats banged out 10 hits in a 12-5 victory over the Owls, but the bats struggled Saturday as Meigs County pulled out a 2-1 victory in the bottom of the seventh to claim their second win of the season over the boys from Benton.
“We had some great at bats Friday night but today we didn’t battle at the plate like we should,” lamented Polk head coach Bill Triplett. “We ended four at bats on what would have been ball four.”
“We also gave them too many outs,” the Wildcat coach added after his team issued seven free passes plus committed a couple of fielding errors, one of which set up the first Tiger run. “We let them hang around and it came back to bite us.”
With the loss, Polk (17-9, 4-4) slips to the third seed in next weekend’s District 5-AA Tournament and will open postseason play at second-seeded McMinn Central Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Wildcats will tune up for the district event with a home-and-home series against McMinn County, in Benton Monday and Athens Tuesday.
Meigs County (11-8, 3-5) will play host to East Ridge Monday and travel to Loudon Tuesday before entertaining Sweetwater in a play-in game for the district tournament Friday.
Tigers 2, Wildcats 1
In a classic pitcher’s duel between aces, both teams scored in their opening at bats and then were shut down until the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
“We knew it would be a low-scoring game with Spencer (Crabtree) and Jared (Allen) going,” stated Meigs head coach Justin Jennings after his team swept the two regular season games between the two old rivals. “Both guys were very tough today and we got the big hit when we needed it there at the end.”
“Both of these teams have lots of seniors who have been playing against each other for several year, so we know what to expect from each other,” he continued. “This was the tough battle we expected it to be.”
Polk got on the board first as Collin Wimberley opened the game with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and came around to score when University of Tenneee signee Jared Allen laced a single to left field.
The Tigers answered in the bottom of the first when Ryan Goines walked, moved to second on an error and third on a fielder’s choice before Heath Malone brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
Combining to issue nine bases on balls and hit four batters, both hurlers struggled with their control but neither allowed another run until the final at bat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Goines, the Tiger leadoff hitter, reached base for the fourth time with his second hit. After being sacrificed to second and an intentional walk issued to set up a potential double play, Crabtree stepped in the box and drilled a single to left to bring Goines around with the game-winning run.
Both Crabtree and Allen allowed only four hits and just one earned run in the contest and are now 5-2 on the season. The big Tiger lefty, who notched a pair of victories over the Wildcats this season, struck out seven while Allen posted eight Ks.
Duncan Coffey went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats, while Allen and Cleveland State signee Michael Hargrove each added a single.
Goins went 2-for-3 as well, plus reached on an error and a was hit by a pitch. Jake Rowland and Crabtree had the other two safeties for the Tigers.
Wildcats 12, Owls 5
After falling in a 4-0 hole before ever coming to bat, Polk patiently worked its way back into the contest and used a 6-run, sixth-inning rally to put the game away.
“We didn’t get down on ourselves and were able to cut the lead in half after our first at bat and then tied the game two innings later,” Triplett explained.
Being Senior Night, it was the veteran Wildcats who led the victory as Allen exploded for a pair of home runs with a run-scoring double sandwiched in between.
The future Vol belted a two-run shot in the opening inning, an RBI-double in the third, ended the fourth inning with a fielder’s choice and then smacked a grand slam to highlight the big sixth-inning rally. Driving in seven runs, Allen leads the team in both RBIs (38) and home runs (10) on the season.
Tyler Lee, who is also heading to play for Cleveland State next fall, earned the pitching victory to improve to 3-1 on the year, plus he had an RBI-single. Hargrove reached base three times.
Brock Raper stroked a double and drew a walk before scoring twice for the ’Cats, while Wimberley went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI.
Drew Toth went 3-for-4 for Ooltewah, including a double, while T.J. Binder also laced a two-bagger.
TIGERS 2, WILDCATS 1
Polk County 100 000 0 — 1 4 2
Meigs County 100 000 1 — 2 4 0
WP: Spencer Crabtree (5-2) 7 IP, 7 Ks, 4 BB, 2 HBP, 4 H, 1 ER. LP: Jared Allen (5-2) 7 IP, 8 Ks, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 4 H, 1 ER. RBI: Allen (PC); Heath Malone, Crabtree (MC). Records: Polk County 17-9, 4-4 District 5-AA; Meigs County 11-8, 3-5 District 5-AA.
WILDCATS 12, OWLS 5
Ooltewah 400 010 0 — 5 7 2
Polk County 202 206 x — 12 10 4
WP: Tyler Lee (3-1) 5 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, 4 ER. LP: Michael Finnegan. HR: Jared Allen 2 (PC). 2B: Drew Toth, T.J. Binder (O); Allen, Brock Raper (PC). RBI: Allen 7, Lee, Collin Wimberley (PC). Records: Ooltewah 18-11, Polk County 17-8.