After a season’s worth of preparation, Cleveland got the second season of baseball started Wednesday evening with a 7-1 win over Rhea County in the opening game of the District 5-AAA tournament at Soddy-Daisy High School.
“We played well tonight. This is probably one of our best all-around games. We had some timely hits from Jake (Wyrick) and Kimsey (Bell). We did a good job at bat and also had some good defensive plays,” said Cleveland coach Ted Carson.
The No. 4-seeded Raiders committed only one error on a double play ball that resulted in no repercussions.
The Blue Raiders got the scoring started in the bottom of the first with a two-out home run over the center-field fence by first baseman Jake Wyrick.
Rhea tied the game with a run in the top of the second, the only one of the game for the Eagles thanks to a stellar performance on the hill by winning pitcher Taylor Thompson.
“It was a good game on the mound by Taylor. His ERA was under one, so it won’t go above one since he just gave up a single run tonight,” Carson said of his junior right-hander’s five hit performance.
To date, Thompson has given up only 10 runs all year, six of which were earned.
Cleveland responded to the score by Rhea with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Jackson Earle singled to lead off the Raiders’ at bat. Reed Allison followed with a walk, and Michael Henderson laid down a bunt to load the bases. Another walk, this time to Ryan Adkins, brought in the second run for the Raiders. Allison raced to the plate on a fielder’s choice, and Wyrick stepped in to lift a soft single over the head of the Rhea County shortstop for an RBI and a 4-1 Cleveland lead.
After scoreless third and fourth innings, the Blue Raiders added some insurance runs for good measure.
Kimsey Bell made it a 5-1 game with a lead-off homer on a 3-2 pitch that stayed just inside the foul pole and landed deep in the trees behind the left-field fence. Mike Powers trotted to first after being hit by a pitch and later scored on a double by Koltyn Plumb. A Rhea County throwing error loaded the bases, and Cleveland took a 7-1 lead minutes later on a walk that scored the final run of the game.
The Blue Raiders will try to keep the hot streak going tonight at 8. If Carson gets the same from his team against Ooltewah, he feels his team is poised for a good run in the tournament.
“Hopefully we can put a string together. If we do we can play with anybody. We’ve played bad at times, but hopefully we can peak at the right time,” said Carson.
BLUE RAIDERS 7, CHEROKEES 1
Rhea County 010 000 0 — 1 5 2
Cleveland 130 030 x — 7 9 1
WP: Taylor Thompson. LP: Hunter McClendon. HR: Jake Wyrick, Kimsey Bell (C). 2B: Koltyn Plumb (C). Other highlights: Plumb 2-4, Thompson 2-4, Wyrick 2-3 (C); Jalen Smith 2-3 (RC). Records: Rhea County 10-15; Cleveland 15-19.