Taking advantage of nine free passes and getting a two-run home run from Davis Hall, Tennessee High gained a five-run lead by the top of the sixth inning and held on to claim a 6-5 decision in a District 1-AAA elimination game.
The defeat ended a memorable season for D-B (22-13), the tournament’s top seed after nabbing the Big 7 Conference regular- season championship.
“Obviously we’re disappointed not to make it (to the region),” said veteran D-B coach Ryan Wagner. “I knew going in that it wouldn’t be easy because this conference is so deep and strong.”
The fourth-seeded Vikings joined Science Hill in next week’s Region 1-AAA tournament after those teams play it out to determine the district champion.
The Vikings (25-10) and Hilltoppers meet back here Wednesday at 6 p.m. A win by once-beaten Tennessee High would force an ultimate title game Thursday because the Hilltoppers have yet to lose in the double-elimination event.
Down 1-0 after allowing a first-inning run, the Vikings tallied three times in the third on the strength of four walks, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Gavin Cross.
They went up 4-1 on an RBI single by Jarrett Powell in the fifth then Hall launched a Sebastian Fugate pitch for his two- run homer and a 6-1 edge.
Brogan Beckner, a Virginia Tech signee who nearly led the Tribe back late, battled but had trouble finding the strike zone all evening for D-B, walking eight and hitting one batter in his five-plus innings of work.
“Brogan, he’s not had his best stuff the last few outings, but I told him just a minute ago that he competed tonight harder than I’ve ever seen him,” Wagner said. “He sure hit the ball well ... very nearly brought us back.”
HALL HOLDS ON
A senior right-hander who will play at King, Hall cruised and allowed just one run through the first five innings before running into trouble.
A pitcher’s best friend — the double-play grounder — saved him in the sixth inning; the Indians plated just one run despite loading the bases with nobody out.
“We have the bases loaded with no outs and in two pitches they get out of the inning,” Wagner said. “It just wasn’t our night.”
Jackson McDavid grounded into the double play and Jake Timbes flew out to center on the next pitch, ending the threat.
After leading off the bottom of the sixth with a double off the wall, Beckner rocked a three- run homer with two outs in the seventh to make it 6-5.
However, Hall got Derek Thurston to fly out with nobody on base to end the game.
“We just came up a little short,” Wagner said.
“But we competed and I’m proud of the year we had with this group of guys. I look forward to the future.”