“We can only look in the mirror,” declared Bear head coach Travis Adams after his team left 16 runners on base in the 7-6 defeat. “The first and last innings were all on us. We made that mess and in a game like this, you can’t get away with that.”
The loss dropped Bradley (16-11, 8-3 District 5-AAA) into a three-way tie atop the district standings, along with Soddy-Daisy (14-13, 8-3) and East Hamilton (18-13, 8-3), with each team having just one more regular season league game to play.
Weather permitting, the final seeding for the upcoming district tournament will be determined tonight as the Bears are supposed to host Ooltewah (15-11, 7-4), while Soddy will travel to Cleveland, which it defeated 9-0 Monday. East Hamilton will journey to Athens to take on a McMinn County squad it shut out 3-0 Monday night. Should any of tonight’s games get rained out, the teams will play on Wednesday evening.
A misplayed high fly ball to open the bottom of the first inning resulted in a triple for Owl leadoff man Logan Fugate, who reached base five times on the evening and eventually scored the game winning run.
The hosts followed with three straight singles and back-to-back walks to plate a trio of Ooltewah runs. The first out recorded by the Bears came during the second walk, when a wild pitch was recovered by catcher Jordan Timmons and then fired to pitcher Brett Standifer to catch the Owl base runner trying to score.
The Bears answered with a pair of runs of their own in the top of the second, on an RBI-double by junior Tyler Carpenter, who went 3-for-5 at the dish, and a bases-loaded walk to senior Caleb Pace.
Ooltewah pushed the advantage back to three runs with a couple of runs of its own in the bottom of the second with Fugate once again singling, stealing second and scoring on a hit by Hayden Bradley. Bradley moved up on a wild pitch and a passed ball and scored on a two-out infield hit by Caleb Collins.
The Bears picked up a solo run in the third frame when senior Hunter Rogers ripped a one-out single, then advanced on a walk to classmate Logan Blackwell and a single by Carpenter, before senior Chandler Duggan drew a RBI-free pass.
Back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the fourth led to another Owl run as Fugate got the first hit and eventually crossed home on a wild pitch.
Bradley was able to trim the difference back to two runs after Blackwell walked, stole second and scored on a two-out single by senior Cal Pickel in the top of the fifth.
After a scoreless sixth frame, the Bears’ backs were against the wall in the top of the seventh, but Duggan, who had a pair of hits and drew a trio of walks in the contest, opened the at bat with a single. He then scored all the way from first when Pickel sliced a double into the left-field corner. A pair of groundouts to the left side of the infield by Pace and senior Jacob Barnes brought Pickel in with the game-tying run to force extra innings.
Neither team was able to produce a run in the eighth or ninth frames. Although the Bears got a runner to third with only one out in the first extra try, he was gunned down at the plate by Owl left fielder Bryson Owen after he tagged up on a fly ball. Bradley’s hopes soared again in the top of the 10th when sophomore Kylar Lynn blasted a two-out double off the left-center field wall, but to no avail as the next batter blistered a line drive right at the Owl second baseman for the last out.
After senior Seth Lee, who went 5.1 innings in relief without giving up an earned run, got the leadoff batter in the bottom of the 10th, in stepped Fugate to the batter’s box once again. He delivered a shot too hot to handle, and was able to reach on the error.
Hayden Bradley then reached base for the fourth time of the evening on a second-straight Bear fielding miscue, bringing Division I and pro prospect Brody Binder to the dish. The big Owl catcher already had a pair of hits, plus was “plunked” once and intentionally walked another time in his previous four plate appearance. After Lee got him in a 1-2 hole, Binder then fouled off a pitch before slicing the next offering just inside the right field line for a game-winning double to plate Fugate.
The two teams combined for 24 hits, a half dozen errors and left 27 runners stranded on base in the 3-hour, 15-minute contest.
Bears 11, Owls 1
Bradley claimed an 11-1 victory in the junior varsity game, with sophomore Gunnar Norwood going the distance (six innings) on the hill, striking out a half dozen, while scattering five hits and not giving up an earned run.
Freshmen Byron Mantooth and Cason Still both went 3-for-3 at the plate, with the former scoring three runs, while the latter drove home a pair of teammates and scored twice himself.
Freshman Caleb Reed and sophomore Charlie Hammonds bother went 1-for-2, with Reed stroking a double and driving in three, while Hammonds also plated a teammate.
Bradley Central 021 010 200 0 — 6 10 4
Ooltewah 320 100 000 1 — 7 14 2
WP: Caleb Collins 5 IP, 3 K’s, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 7 hits, 3 ER; LP: Seth Lee (2-4) 5.1 IP, 4 K’s, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 hits, 0 ER. 3B: Logan Fugate (O). 2B: Tyler Carpenter, Cal Pickel (BC); Brody Binder (O). RBI: Pickel 2, Carpenter, Caleb Pace, Chandler Duggan, Jacob Barnes (BC); Binder, Hayden Bradley 2, Caleb Collins, Jackson Malcomb (O). Highlights: Carpenter 3-5, 2B, RBI; Duggan 2-2, 3 BB, run; Pickel 2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs, run (BC); Fugate 4-5, 3B, 4 runs, 3 SB; Bradley 3-6, 2 runs, RBI, SB; Binder 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 IBB, HBP, SB, run (O). Records: Bradley Central 16-11, 8-3 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 15-11, 7-4 District 5-AAA.