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Revamped format ups stakes for annual Tribe Classic

Douglas Fritz • Apr 2, 2019 at 1:30 AM

It’s not the Arby’s Classic yet, but even the best of things must have a starting point.

Dobyns-Bennett’s Tribe Classic features a 16-team bracket and will have a one-game, on-field championship. The baseball tournament will be played at four sites and runs Thursday through Saturday.

Indians coach Ryan Wagner said assistant coach Nathan Fritz came up with the format.

“He found a way to make it more competitive and more intriguing,” Wagner said. “The good thing is nobody ever wanted to play more than four games, and the way this is drawn out everybody gets just four games.

“It’s like the Arby’s Classic setup from basketball. If you stay on the winners’ side, you can win the tournament. Once you lose, you’re placed with other teams and play for fifth, seventh, ninth places and so forth. It’s a credit to Coach Fritz for coming up with something unique.”

The tournament will be played at J. Fred Johnson Stadium and Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, and TVA Credit Union Ballpark and East Tennessee State’s Thomas Stadium in Johnson City. Rain can be a problem, but three of those four sites have Field Turf. Daniel Boone will be used as a backup location for Hunter Wright.

Back in the day, the D-B tournament played to a true championship. But the format changed through the years with teams playing a handful of games and no championship.

“I’m really excited about it,” Wagner said. “This is the first year, and I’m looking forward to having teams come from out of town in the future. We need to get the schedule worked out, away from race weekend. We want to avoid that in the future because of hotel room availability.”

Wagner said it’s hard to get teams from Murfreesboro and the Deep South.

“They have such good competition, they don’t have to leave their area,” he said. “But with the facilities we have, I’m hoping we can get some of those teams.”


Dobyns-Bennett kept its unbeaten streak intact over the weekend in the Smoky Mountain Cup.

“I thought it was a very strong showing,” said Indians coach Tom LaGuardia. “I was very proud of the boys.”

In the Gatlinburg tournament, the Indians (7-0-1) beat Oklahoma’s Fort Gibson 2-1. They had a scoreless tie with Boyd-Buchanan, and beat Franklin Road Academy 4-0.

“We have a board in the locker room where we manage every aspect of the game,” LaGuardia said. “Franklin Road Academy was the first time we’ve had an entirely green or positive board since we opened with Tennessee High.”

Of the six goals in the tournament, Martin Torres scored three of them after getting extra time because of Sam Garcia’s foot injury. Torres took advantage of opponents’ extra attention to striker Will Arrowood.

“It was next man up,” LaGuardia noted, “and he took advantage of the moment.”

D-B plays at Elizabethton on Thursday at 6 p.m.


Offensive is the best way to describe baseball in Northeast Tennessee so far this season.

Last week it was University High at the top of the state’s list for runs scored per game. This week, Sullivan South has climbed the ladder into the No. 2 spot. And there are three area teams in the top 10.

The Rebels have racked up 133 runs in 12 games, reaching double digits seven times for an average of 11.1 per game. As a side note, the Rebels’ offensive prowess makes the March 22 no-hitter by Daniel Boone’s Ryne Haney look even more impressive. Boone beat South 15-0 in that five-inning contest.

Class A Gibson County in West Tennessee, is the state’s leader with 11.2 runs per game.

Local teams joining South in the top 10 are No. 6 Tennessee High (10.1) and No. 10 University High (9.8).


Boone has made a habit of being stingy with runs allowed.

Going into Monday’s game against Science Hill, Boone pitchers had given up just 32 earned runs in 80 1/3 innings for a team ERA of 2.79. In nine of the Trailblazers’ 14 games, they allowed three or fewer runs.


Happy Valley’s Dakota Cochran will make it official to play football with Brevard College. The signing will take play Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the high school library.

Baseball games of the week


Daniel Boone at Science Hill

Johnson County at Elizabethton

University High at Sullivan North


Tribe Classic


Science Hill at Tennessee High

Sullivan South at Elizabethton

Science Hill finishes a key Big 7 series with the Trailblazers and later meets Tennessee High in a series that could determine the league title. …

University High and North finish their series between teams at the top of the Watauga Valley Conference. …

South and Elizabethton both have high-powered offenses.

Baseball rankings

Things were relatively stable this week. Sullivan North edged up one spot to No. 9.

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 7-4 1
2. Tennessee High 12-4 2
3. Dobyns-Bennett 8-5 3
4. Elizabethton 10-4 4
5. Daniel Boone 9-5 5
6. Sullivan East 7-4 6
7. Sullivan South 8-4 7
8. University High 8-4 8
9. Sullivan North 7-3 10
10. David Crockett 3-6 10


Softball games of the week


David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett

Elizabethton at Unicoi County


Sullivan East at Sullivan South


NFS tournament at Erwin

Elizabethton-Unicoi matchups are usually some of the best softball games of the year. …

Sullivan East is the favorite while South has opened some eyes with strong play early in the season.

Softball rankings

Science Hill’s mid-week win over Daniel Boone wasn’t enough to push the Lady Hilltoppers into the top spot. Boone holds on after reaching the final eight in the Eastman tournament.

Team W-L Prv
1. Daniel Boone 21-5 1
2. Science Hill 16-5 3
3. David Crockett 11-5 2
4. Unicoi County 14-3 4
5. Sullivan East 9-8 5
6. Sullivan South 6-3 7
7. Dobyns-Bennett 13-9 9
8. Tennessee High 5-6 6
9. Unaka 12-11 8
10. Volunteer 8-7 10
(tie) Elizabethton 4-5 10
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