A varsity/JV doubleheader at North Murray High School last Saturday left the varsity Bobcats stunned and the JV Gilmer squad celebrating another win.
The varsity Cats squandered a second-inning, 9-0 lead to fall 10-9 in walk-off fashion to the Mountaineers, while the JV picked up a 9-5 victory to continue its undefeated season.
Gilmer scored all nine of its runs in the top of the second. McKinley Chadwick and Austin Daman singled to begin the frame, before Brooks Rosser drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Another walk to Chandler Sutton brought Chadwick home, for the first GHS run of the day.
After Mountaineer Nik Malchesky took over on the hill, Drew Healan and Chad Watkins later drew back-to-back one-out walks that scored Daman and Rosser. A two-out walk later gave Sutton the opportunity to trot home and widen the Gilmer lead to 4-0.
The second at-bat for Chadwick in the inning resulted in a double that brought Healan and Watkins across the plate. Daman followed with a double of his own to score courtesy runner Taylor Nolan and Chadwick. Daman went on to steal third during the next at-bat and sprinted home on an RBI single from Rosser, that ran the Gilmer lead up to 9-0. A strikeout finally stopped the bleeding for North Murray.
The Mountaineers started chipping away at the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Blake Davis reached on an error with one out and later scored during a two-out stolen base attempt by Brady Harper. Bobcats hurler Noah Ralston hit back-to-back batters to load the bases, before settling down to record a strikeout and retire the side.
A pair of timely home runs drew North Murray ever closer in the bottom of the third. After Malchesky reached on an error to begin the inning, Brody Frazier connected for a home run to left-center field. Later with one out, Davis hit a solo shot to left field that cut the Gilmer lead down to 9-4. Drake Fowler later popped up with two outs and two runners on, but the infield catch was missed and Ethan Payne charged home to score.
Gilmer pulled Ralston in favor of Will Barnes, who gave up a double that scored two more Mountaineers and trimmed the deficit to 9-7. Barnes then induced a popout to end the six-run bottom of the third.
Frazier doubled and John Luke Jenkins singled to start the bottom of the fourth. A sacrifice flyout from Davis left the Mountaineers within one run of tying the game. Later with two outs, a throwing error brought Jenkins across the plate to tie the game, 9-9. Harper was then thrown out at home while trying to score the go-ahead run, leaving the game in a deadlock.
Both teams continued to produce baserunners, but the game looked to be heading into extra innings until the bottom of the seventh. Fowler drew a leadoff walk, before moving to second on a sacrifice groundout from Waylyn James. A wild pitch got Fowler within 90 feet of home plate and a bloop walk-off single from Malchesky allowed Fowler to trot home and give North Murray the comeback victory.
“I felt like we started out flat,” admitted North Murray head varsity coach Steve Granger after the win. “We just didn’t show up at the ballpark, ready to play, which that’s on me. But they (Gilmer) put nine (runs) on us in the second. I told our kids, ‘Look, just stay the course. (It’s) a long ballgame.’ And they did. We chipped away and then we ended up giving ourselves that chance at the end.”
The JV Bobcats pounced right off the bat on North Murray. Evan Frady drew a leadoff walk and later scored with one out on an RBI single from Tyler Woody. A strikeout and flyout kept GHS from widening its early lead.
The Mountaineers replied by taking the lead in the bottom of the first. After a pair of leadoff singles, a double put North Murray out front 2-1. Gilmer starter Tripp Pierce later settled down to record a pair of strikeouts to keep the deficit at 2-1.
The Cats tied the game back up in the top of the third. Frady again garnered a leadoff walk and later scored on a throwing error with two outs. A strikeout kept the game in a deadlock.
Gilmer used its next turn at the plate to take the lead. Sam Nicholson walked to begin the top of the fourth and later scored by stealing home during a two-out throwout attempt at second. A popup prevented the Cats from opening up a bigger lead.
North Murray wasted little time replying, tying the game in the bottom portion of the frame. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Mountaineers with two outs. A single followed to knot the game at 3-3. A popup again squandered a scoring opportunity in the game, ending the fourth.
NMHS took the lead once more in the bottom of the fifth. A one-out walk lead to an RBI double that put the Mountaineers ahead 4-3. Bobcat relief pitcher Rylan Cochran went on to record two strikeouts and prevent an extension of the North Murray lead.
A mere three outs from suffering their first loss of the season, the Cats found their proverbial ninth life in the top of the seventh. Brandon Weaver picked up an infield single to start the frame. A pickoff attempt sailed wide, putting Weaver at third with no outs. A throwing error then allowed Weaver to score and tie the game, 4-4.
Frady bunted his way on base, before Hunter Bowyer doubled to put Gilmer back out front, 6-4. Woody followed with a single that brought Bowyer home to score. After a Koby Allen single, Eric Turner doubled to bring Woody across the plate. Nicholson later singled with one out to score Turner and widen the GHS advantage to 9-5. A flyout and strikeout put a damper on the Bobcats onslaught.
North Murray manufactured a two-out run in the bottom of the seventh, by taking advantage of a walk and an error to score on a stolen base. Reliever David Smith kept his composure and later induced a groundout to seal the win for Gilmer.
“We finally did what we are supposed to do,” said JV Gilmer coach Eric Tedders. “We took a lot of strikeouts looking, which we can’t do. We’re a better team than that. But I believe that when our guys do what they’re supposed to, the way they’re supposed to … this is a good team. We want to take that next step and be a GREAT team. We’ve got some work to do on our communication. We’ve still got to get the little things done.”
The Bobcats returned home yesterday, for another JV/varsity doubleheader against Lumpkin. The JV ran its record to 8-0 with a 2-0 shutout of the Indians, while the varsity Cats picked up a 5-4 victory. The win improves the Gilmer varsity to 2-4 for the year.
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