It was known throughout the dugout that Taylor Thompson wanted to strike out 14 McMinn County batters Monday night at Raider Field. What Thompson got was 13 strikeouts and the win as the Raiders defeated their 5-AAA opponent, 4-0.
“Taylor did a great job. He’s been throwing outstanding and every time he steps on the mound he’s always giving us a chance to win,” Cleveland head coach Ted Carson commented.
During Thompson’s seven innings on the mound he walked only three batters. Cleveland’s hard-working defensive efforts plus a stellar pitching performance proved to be the winning combination, as the Cherokees were never able to make it past third base at any point during the game.
“Overall we had some good plays. Koltyn Plumb picked off one, threw out another, and did a good job behind the plate,” Carson said.
A throw from Plumb, the catcher, to first baseman Jake Wyrick was quick enough to get the third out in the top of the second, as the McMinn runner was just a bit too far from the base to make it back safely.
The bottom of the second started off with Eric Powers getting walked. Reed Allison stepped up to the plate with only one Cleveland out and cracked the ball deep into left field, just inside of the foul line. The hit got Allison a triple, and brought in Powers for the Raiders’ first run of the contest.
Michael Henderson was walked and Jay McIntire followed that up with a squeeze bunt, which was enough to bring Allison home.
The next four innings were a virtual stalemate, with both teams being able to hold off the other. That would change in the bottom of the sixth, when the home team got its final two runs.
Plumb was once again able to make a play from the plate during the top of the fifth, this time throwing to McIntire at second base to get the third out.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Powers was able to make it to first, where Clinton Clayton took over as the runner. A wild pitch to Plumb gave Clayton the chance to steal second.
Plumb was ultimately walked, and Jackson Earle took over running for the catcher. A bunt by Allison on a play that left first base uncovered successfully loaded the bases for the Raiders, with no outs.
Henderson stepped up to the plate and hit one into center field, where the Cherokee outfielders players were unable to make a play. Clayton made it home, and Henderson made it to first, keeping the bases loaded.
McMinn changed pitchers in an attempt to break up the Raider momentum, and the new Tribe hurler was able to strike out McIntire for the first out.
A hit from Austin Dykes brought Jackson Earle in for the fourth and final run of the game.
“We still have to get some big hits. We could’ve put it away a lot more,” Carson explained following the game. “Some guys came through. Michael (Henderson) had a big hit and gave us a run in the end. We had a squeeze bunt and got away with it. We executed a little bit early to get some runs, but we needed some big hits.”
Cleveland will travel to Athens tonight with hopes of sweeping the Cherokees and getting another important, final district win under their belts. Game time is slated for a 7 p.m. start.
The Raiders currently stand at fourth place in the district, following behind Ooltewah, Walker Valley and Bradley Central.
Their last game before the district tournament begins will be at home this Friday against Polk County. This final game will also be Cleveland’s senior night.
Tournament play is scheduled to begin on May 1, in Soddy-Daisy.
McMinn County 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Cleveland 020 002 x — 4 7 0
WP: Taylor Thompson (4-2) 13 K, 3 BB. LP: Corbin Powers 3B: Reed Allison 2B: Eric Powers (C); Tyler Biddle (M). Other highlights: Powers 2-2, 2 runs; Allison 2-3, run. Record: Cleveland 12-18, 5-AAA 6-5.