Both teams rapped out seven hits.
Both starting pitchers gave up only one earned run in six or more innings on the hill.
But when all was said and done, a trio of Bradley Central errors helped Ooltewah break open a close game and wrap up the top seed for the upcoming District 5-AAA tournament with a 7-1 victory at the McKenzie Baseball Complex Monday evening.
“We were very competitive for the first six innings, but against a team like them (Ooltewah), one bad inning can kill you,” commented Bear head coach Travis Adams. “We can’t afford a letdown. We have got to do more offensively and take advantage of the chances we get.”
The Owls are now 17-7 overall and 10-1 in league play, securing the No. 1 seed in the upcoming district tournament no matter what happens this evening when the Bears visit Ooltewah.
Dropping their third straight 5-AAA contest, Bradley (14-8, 6-3) slips to a half game behind Walker Valley (14-10, 7-3) for second place in the district, but the Mustangs hold the tie-breaker between the two after having swept the Bears in a home-and-home series last week.
Along with tonight’s contest in Ooltewah, the Bears will wrap up their district slate against Rhea County (8-11, 2-7) next week, while Walker Valley still has to play Soddy-Daisy (4-14, 1-8) in its final 5-AAA home-and-home series.
The lone run of the first five innings Monday evening came when Owl first baseman Kevin Dupree laced the first of his two doubles to open the top of the second inning. He scored a few minutes later on a single by Jared Ryan.
The visitors added two more runs in the sixth frame Dupree walked and later crossed home after a Bear error. Chase Morrissey, who had reached on that same miscue, scored later in the inning when Mitch Duncan finished up a string of six straight Owls reaching base.
Bradley got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Charles Chavis led of the at bat with a double just inside the third base bag before classmate Jacob Maynard laced a single for his team-leading 21st RBI of the season. Both Maynard (.509 BA) and Chavis (.345) went 2-for-3 in the contest.
Still in a tight battle, the wheels fell off for the Bears in the top of the seventh as back-to-back errors and a rare obstruction call allowed the first two Owls to reach base, and one to come around to score.
After an unsuccessful fielder’s choice and a hit batsman loaded the bases with nobody out, Drew Williams stepped to the dish and ripped a double over the right fielder’s head to plate two more before Morrissey brought home the game’s final run with a sacrifice fly.
Other than walking the first batter he faced, Ooltewah ace Zach Thompson (5-1) struck out 10 and didn’t issue another free pass, while scattering the seven Bear hits. The Tennessee Tech signee only allowed one Bradley runner to get past second base, while flame throwing better than 95 percent fastball.
Maynard (4-2) only struck out a pair and gave up four freebies and a half dozen hits, but just one earned run in six innings on the bump.
“Jacob (Maynard) pitched well but he had to work out of some situations,” stated coach Adams after the Owls stranded a half dozen base runners in the first six frames.
Ooltewah 010 002 4 — 7 7 0
Bradley Central 000 001 0 — 1 7 3
WP: Zach Thompson (5-1) 7 IP, 10 Ks, 1 BB, 7 hits, 1 ER. LP: Jacob Maynard (4-2) 6 IP, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 6 hits, 1 ER. 2B: Drew Williams 2, Kevin Dupree, Brody Binder (O); Charles Chavis (BC); RBI: Williams 2, Jared Ryan, Mitch Duncan (O); Maynard (BC). Highlights: Williams 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Jared Ryan 2-4 RBI; Dupree 1-2 2B, BB, HBP, 2 run (O); Maynard 2-3, RBI; Chavis 2-3, 2B, run (BC). Records: Ooltewah 17-7, 10-1 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 14-8, 6-3 District 5-AAA.