The Bears sent 19 batters to the plate in the 42-minute top half of the seventh inning, with a half dozen getting “plunked,” four earning walks and four others hitting safely in the 14-5 outcome to spoil District 5-AAA regular season champion Ooltewah’s Senior Night celebration.
“It was a crazy seventh inning, but we’ll take it,” proclaimed head coach Travis Adams as Bradley earned a split in the home-and-home series.
The Bears will now prepare to cohost the annual Trojan Classic this weekend, playing four games in three days, starting with East Hamilton coming to the McKenzie Baseball Complex for a 4:30 game Thursday afternoon. Bradley will also take on Davy Crockett Friday at 6:30, plus Collierville and Moore County Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting.
After dropping a 7-1 decision Monday that secured the top seed in the upcoming district tournament for Ooltewah (17-8, 10-2), the Owls led 2-1 going into the final frame Tuesday evening before the wheels fell completely off for the home team.
Bear senior Charles Chavis led off the top of the seventh with a ringing triple before classmates Jacob Maynard was walked and Caleb Pippenger was hit by a pitch for the third time in the contest to load the bases.
After the first of three pitching changes for the Owls during the at bat, Chavis beat a throw home on a fielder’s choice to even the score before Bradley took the lead when Jacob Fowler was hit by a pitch a moment later.
Ooltewah finally recorded the first out of the frame on a fielder’s choice but then junior Cal Pickel got “drilled” with a pitch to keep the merry-go-round spinning. Logan Blackwell brought in a run with a hit, while senior Brently White plated a pair with a double, to force another pitching change.
After Chavis walked in the second of his three at bats in the rally, Maynard and Pippenger were both hit by pitches. Jacob Barnes drove in a couple of teammates with a single before a fly ball to center field finally recorded the second out.
Four more free passes to Jordan Timmons, Pickel, Blackwell and White brought in the final three Bear runs before the third out was put on the books.
After seeing a one-run lead turn into a dozen-run deficit, Ooltewah did manage a three-run homer by Middle Tennessee State signee Kevin Durpee in the bottom of the seventh to bring the difference back to single digits as the near three-hour contest came to a close.
Bradley had scored its only other run in the sixth inning when Pickel was hit for the first of three times, all three driving in a run. Pickel had a single to go with his three free passes.
Pippenger tied a state record by getting “plunked” four times in the contest, including twice in the same inning (seventh). Fowler was the only Bear with more than one hit, going 2-for-4, plus he was hit by a pitch and drove in a run.
White reached base four times with a double, and a trio of walks, plus he plated three teammates. Chavis and Maynard got on base three times apiece.
As a team, Bradley drew 18 free passes (nine walks and nine hit by pitch), plus rapped out eight hits.
Senior Nate Mills (4-3) worked 6 1/3 innings on the hill for the Bears, striking out four, while allowing seven hits and issuing seven free passes resulting in four earned runs.
“Nate did a good job and our defense got us out of a couple of jams with double plays,” commented coach Adams.
In the junior varsity game, Bradley claimed a 6-1 victory behind the complete-game pitching effort of Chandler Hamilton, who struck out a dozen Owls and allowed just two hits.
Chandler Duggan paced the Bear offense, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, while Ty King also drove in a pair while going 2-for-3 at the dish. Tyler Carpenter also stroked a double in the victory.
Bradley Central 000 001 (13) — 14 8 2
Ooltewah 011 000 3 — 5 7 0
WP: Nate Mills (4-3) 6.1 IP, 4 Ks, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 7 hits, 4 ER. LP: Kevin Durpee 2 IP, 2 Ks, 4 BB, 3 hits, 4 ER. HR: Dupree (O). 3B: Charles Chavis (BC). 2B: Brently White (BC); Drew Williams, Hayden Bradley (O). RBI: Cal Pickel 3, Jacob Barnes 3, White 3, Logan Blackwell 2, Caleb Pippenger, Jacob Fowler (BC); Dupree 3, Williams (O). Highlights: Fowler 2-4, HBP, RBI; Pickel 1-2, 3 HBP, 3 RBI; Pippenger 4 HBP, RBI; Chavis 1-4 3B, 2 BB, 2 runs (BC). Williams 2-4, 2B, RBI; Dupree 2-3, HR 3 RBI (O). Records: Ooltewah 17-8, 10-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 15-8, 7-3 District 5-AAA.