Wednesday night at Soddy-Daisy, the Raiders continued that run with a 5-3 win that ended the season for Bradley Central. It was the second night in a row Cleveland has defeated a Bradley County team in the tournament. The Raiders eliminated Walker Valley Tuesday with a 5-4 victory. Cleveland returns to the diamond tonight to face Soddy-Daisy — who lost to Ooltewah 3-1 in — in the loser’s bracket final. The winner earns a shot at Ooltewah for the district championship and an automatic berth in the Region 3 tournament. The first pitch is set to take place at 7 p.m.
Clutch hitting and a gutty pitching performance by senior Jake Wyrick (3-3) were the keys to the Cleveland win over the Bears.
“Our bats have come alive the last couple of games, we have hit the ball well. And Jake did an outstanding job on the mound. He got up in the pitch count and got a little bit tired, the umpire hit kind of a tight strike zone. But, he kept throwing it in there and did an excellent job. I’m proud of him,” said Carson of his winning pitcher.
The Raiders outhit the Bears 9-2 behind the 11-strikeout performance from Wyrick.
“Hats off to Jake, he really kept us in check. We left a lot on the table,” said a disappointed Bears coach Travis Adams. “When you look back at it, everything they did was with two outs. They were getting two-out hits and we weren’t getting them with people in scoring position. This time of the year we don’t have a reset button, we’ve got to execute at that time and we didn’t do a very good job of that. No doubt runners left on base hurt us.”
Both teams put runners on base in the first inning, the Raiders on a single up the middle off the bat of Wyrick and the Bears courtesy of a Cleveland error. Bradley Central put the first run on the board on a Raider throwing error, sending Charles Chavis scurrying home as the ball rolled down the left-field line.
Staked to a 1-0 lead, Bears’ starting pitcher Nate Mills (6-4) was unable to work his way out of a jam after getting the first two outs in the top of the second. The senior righty hit a batter and gave up a pair of singles to load the bases. The third straight hit plated two runs for the Raiders, leaving runners on third and first. Mills stopped the rally with a strikeout to end the Cleveland half of the inning.
Wyrick found himself facing the same situation against the Raiders in the bottom of the inning. With two out, the Cleveland lefty walked consecutive, batters prompting a visit to the mound from Carson. Wyrick’s third consecutive pass loaded the bases for the Bears. The drama continued when the Cleveland starter ran the count to 3-2 before getting a called third strike to get out of the jam and preserve the lead for the Raiders.
Mills continued to struggle in the third, walking one and hitting one. A wild pitch put runners on the corners for the Raiders with only one out before a 6-4-3 double play sent Cleveland back to the field.
Bradley Central looked to tie the game in the third after Jacob Maynard walked and moved to third on a wild pitch and passed ball. Again Wyrick held the Bears back with two strikeouts to keep the Raiders out front.
The Cleveland bats stayed hot in the fourth with Jay McIntire, Austin Dykes and Kimsey Bell loading the bases on consecutive two-out singles. A Bradley Central error put the Raiders up 3-1. Mike Powers stepped in the box and made it a 5-1 game with a two-RBI rope single to center.
The hit was the end of the night for Mills who gave up four earned runs on seven hits. Mills gave way to the Bears’ Tuesday starter Jacob Maynard, who took over with runners on second and first and two outs. The move by Adams did the trick as Maynard got the K for out number three.
Though struggling with the strike zone, Wyrick held the Bears to only one run and no hits through three innings of baseball. The Cleveland senior settled down to get the Bears in order in the bottom of the fourth.
Maynard tried to return the favor in the top of the fifth getting the first two outs in succession. But, back-to-back Bradley errors put runners at third and second. Only a highlight reel play by Bears’ shortstop Charles Chavis moving to his right on a sharp ground ball back up the middle stopped Cleveland from increasing the lead.
“We had a costly error, but a lot of times we have pitched out of those. But, it kind of snowballed and they got some runs. We were down 5-1 on a kid who was dealing a no-hit game at that time, but we still had opportunities to plate some guys. We just couldn’t get it done,” said Adams.
The Bears picked up their first hit of the game on a single to left by Chavis after Brentley White reached on an error to lead off the inning. Bradley Central loaded the bases with one out when Maynard took a pitch off his foot. The second run of the night for the Bears trotted home seconds later when Wyrick thumped Caleb Pippenger. The Raiders kept the damage to a minimum when Wyrick got a ground ball to third to end the rally.
The Bears made another move to put runs on the board in the lower portion of the sixth. With one out, Caleb Pace singled back up the middle and Jacob Fowler walked. Both were still waiting after Wyrick reached back and picked up his 10th K of the game. The control bug popped up once again for the Cleveland hurler as he lost an 0-2 count and loaded the bases with a walk. Seconds later, the Bears made it a 5-3 game when a walk to Maynard brought in a run. That would be it for Bradley in the sixth, however, after a soft fly to second base left three Bears stranded and the Raiders holding on to a two-run lead.
The Bears had a final shot to make a run in the bottom of the seventh after the Raiders went down 1-2-3 in the top of the inning.
But any chance of a comeback was put to rest when Wyrick and the Blue Raiders shut down the Bears in order to close out the win.
“We’re going to try and get some rest and come back energized tomorrow ready to go against Soddy-Daisy. We’ll just go out like every other game. We have everybody available (to pitch) except Jake and Taylor. We’ll do whatever it takes,” said Carson.
Adams said afterward he is proud of what his seniors accomplished in their baseball careers at Bradley Central High School.
“I’m proud of these seniors. Definitely, they fought hard with limited resources. They’re not the most talented bunch, but they are a very hard working group, a very hard working group. I’m proud of them,” he said.
BLUE RAIDERS 5, BEARS 3
Cleveland 020 300 0 — 5 9 3
Bradley Central 100 011 0 — 3 2 3
WP: Jake Wyrick. LP: Nate Mills. Highlights: Austin Dykes 2-4, 2 RBI, Wyrick 2-3, Jay McIntyre 2-3, Eric Powers 2 RBI. Records: Cleveland 17-18; Bradley Central 21-13.