After his normal starters dropped five games in as many days, Cleveland High baseball coach Ted Carson shook things up a bit Saturday afternoon and got a different result.
“Our older guys were pressing. They were worn out with so many games in a row, so we gave some other players a chance,” he explained after four freshman, a pair of sophomores and a trio of juniors took the field and handed a strong Sycamore club just its second defeat of the season.
The 4-2 outcome in the final game at the McKenzie Baseball Complex for the Ooltewah Invitational was highlighted by an 11-hit Raider offensive attack and a strong pitching performance by Chantz Placek, who struck out a half-dozen in a complete-game, five-hit effort.
“These guys were able to relax and make the plays, plus Chantz did a great job on the mound,” declared Coach Carson of the sophomore lefty. “He’s had a couple of good outings lately and he really did the job today.”
Cleveland finished the tournament with a 1-3 record after a 7-3 loss to Jackson North Side (4-5) Friday evening and a 4-2 defeat to Silverdale (6-2), which is the defending Class A state runner-up.
The Raiders (3-9) have the bye week in District 5-AAA play this week and will take a couple of days off to prepare for the Pounder Classic beginning Thursday in Harrison.
Although Cleveland got five runners on base in the first three innings against Sycamore (8-2-1), it wasn’t until the fourth frame that it was able to put the game’s first run on the scoreboard.
Freshman Jake Griffin opened the at bat by beating out an infield single, stole second base, moved to third on a ground out and came home when classmate Emory King lifted a sacrifice fly to center field.
The War Eagles from Middle Tennessee scored their two runs in the bottom of the frame with a one-out single and a pair of two-out walks loading the bases before pitcher Mitchell Langley helped his own cause with a two-runs single.
The Raiders came right back in the top of the fifth to regain the lead. Junior Clint Clayton was hit by a pitch to open the rally and then sophomore Michael May beat out a bunt single. Junior Joe Martin laid down a sacrifice bunt; however, Clayton beat the throw to third on the play and the sacks were full with nobody out.
Placek stepped to the dish and delivered a single up the middle to plate Clayton. May scored a few moments later on a ground out by Griffin.
Cleveland tacked on the final run of the contest when junior Bryson Murray led off the top of the sixth with an infield single. After Austin Dykes bunted him to second, Martin brought him home with a two-out single to right field.
Murray, Placek, Martin, May and Griffin had two hits apiece in the victory.
On the bump, Placek held the War Eagles hitless through the first three frame before giving up a pair of hits in the fourth, one in the fifth and infield singles in both the sixth and seventh frames.
Cleveland 000 121 0 — 4 11 2
Sycamore 000 200 0 — 2 5 1
WP: Chantz Placek 7 IP, 6 Ks, 4 BB, 5 hits, 2 ER; LP: Mitchell Langley 6 IP, 4 Ks, 2 HBP, 11 hits, 4 ER. RBI: Emory King, Chantz Placek, Jake Griffin, Joe Martin (C); Mitchell Langley 2 (S). Highlights: Bryson Murray 2-3, run; Placek 2-4, RBI, reached on error; Martin 2-3, RBI; Michael May 2-4, run; Griffin 2-4, SB, run (C). Records: Cleveland 3-9, Sycamore 8-2-1.