"We were supposed to play here Thursday, but there is a 90 percent chance of rain. That's why we moved it up to tonight," Carson said of the schedule change.
The Blue Raiders (10-9, 4-2 District 5-AAA) , fresh off a District 5-AAA sweep of cross-county rival Walker Valley, faced a Chattanooga Central team with a perfect 8-0 record in District 6-AA and a 14-5 mark overall.
The Raiders, who have been swinging red-hot bats as of late, managed only one hit and no runs through six innings before reeling off four hits and scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh in a 6-2 loss to the Pounders.
Winning pitcher Dominique Dawson was nearly untouchable for the Purple Pounders, keeping the Blue Raiders off balance with a steady stream of well-placed off speed pitches mixed with corner-painting occasional heat.
"Their pitcher did a good job. He had a little pop on the ball and had a good breaking ball that kept us off balance. You have to give him credit," Carson said of the winning right-hander.
Cleveland starting pitcher Jackson Earle found himself in a bit of trouble in the top of the first. After losing a 2-0 count, the junior righty walked the first batter and gave up a single, a two-out walk and another single that put the Purple Pounders up 1-0. Earle ended the Central half of the inning with his first strikeout of the night and the bases still loaded.
A walk, one-out single and two-out double led to a 3-3 Purple Pounders' lead.
Reed Allison picked up the Raiders' first hit of the night with a double to right-center field. Allison missed out on a triple when the ball rolled under the wall and out of Raider Field. A ground ball to second ended the threat and Cleveland still trailed 3-0 after two innings of play.
The Pounders opened the top of the fourth with a double and run scoring single. The second double of the inning put Chattanooga Central up 6-0 with no outs, sending Carson to the mound. Junior southpaw Connor Mitchell took the ball from Earle who ended his night with six runs off six hits, two strikeouts and four walks.
Earle ended his mound appearance after giving up seven hits, four walks and striking out three Pounders.
Mitchell fanned the first batter he faced for the first out of the inning and a fly ball to center for the second. A call strike three got the Blue Raiders off the field.
Mitchell gave up two hits and fanned four in the relief effort.
Looking for their second hit of the night, Cleveland settled for a walk to Jake Wyrick to open the Raiders who reached second on a wild pitch and third on a Central error that put Eric Powers on first. The Pounders killed the Cleveland scoring effort and preserved the shutout with back-to-back strikeouts and a ground ball back to the pitcher.
The Raiders squandered another chance to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth leaving runners stranded on first and third.
Cleveland finally broke the shutout and found the hits the Raiders had been looking for all night in their final at bat. With one out, Koltyn Plumb singled to get the rally in motion. With two out, Allison doubled to right, scoring courtesy runner Parker Carson. Kimsey Bell kept the inning going with a single and Wyrick cracked an RBI single to make it a 6-2 ballgame. A Central error loaded the bases, but a ground ball back to the mound ended the Cleveland chance for a comeback.
"It was too late (when we started hitting)," Carson said of the late outburst. "We've played a lot of games the last few days and had some big ones. I think we just weren't mentally ready to play today. Once we did get something going it was a little bit too late."
"Our kids don't give up. They were a little bit tired, but that's no excuse, you have to be ready to play and go hard every time you step out on the field. We will be ready to bounce back when we play them again on Friday."
PURPLE POUNDERS 6, BLUE RAIDERS 2
Chattanooga Central 120 300 0 — 6 8 3
Cleveland 000 000 2 — 2 5 1
WP: Dominique Dawson; LP: Jackson Earle. 2B: Gabe Fomby 2 (CC), John Stander; Reed Allison (C). Other highlights: Dawson 2-3, Fomby 3-4, Tyler Lowe 2-4 (CC). Records: Chattanooga Central 14-5; Cleveland 10-9.