Cocke County nearly lost its early advantage late in the seventh inning as Morristown East occupied all the bases in Tuesday’s Inter Mountain Athletic Conference game at Sherwood Park.
Two runners found their way across home plate for the Hurricanes of East, as two more were in scoring position, only needing one run to extend the game. It was Jacob King of the Cocke County Fighting Cocks who delivered the final out to first base to secure the 4-3 victory.
King, who was nearly ruled out due to injury, fought through the adversity and came up big to split the series against East (3-12, 1-5 IMAC) and Cocke County (9-6, 3-5 IMAC).
“This doesn’t surprise me a bit that my guys were able to respond like they did today,” head coach Andy Chrisman said. “King has been dealing with a labrum injury and he came into my office the night before this game and asked if he could move to catcher because of it. I trusted him back there and he was the one that made the final out for us to win the game. You talk about a poetic ending.”
Bryce Click of Cocke County was the winning pitcher as he dealt all seven innings and struck out four.
“Our defense stepped up today and made the plays we needed to get it done,” Click said. “I felt confident whenever we had the lead and our defense was playing great.”
East’s pitcher Spencer Justice also pitched a complete game and struck out nine but the errors in the infield got the best of East’s defense.
The Fighting Cocks managed six hits off Click while East could only connect three times with the ball. Much different from the 11 hits they had against Cocke County on Monday.
“I thought we came out flat today,” head coach J.D. Newsom of East said. “We waited too long to get into the baseball rhythm. We have to learn how to respond. If we go out there and beat a team, we have to come out the next day and continue the momentum. It’s a learning process.”
As five empties were left empty for both sides, it was the third and seventh inning that rounded up the action.
Cocke County took the third inning with its four hits and four runs. Josh Ellis ignited the hot bats with his single. Dylan Ellison brought Ellis home with his RBI double for the first run of the game.
Click continued his day with an RBI single and then he was brought home from an error on second. He finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate.
David Stinnett brought in the last run for the Fighting Cocks with his single. His RBI would be the last Cocke County saw on the day as they went up 4-0 going into the third inning.
“We were able to jump out on East and give us some confidence,” Chrisman said. “We were a little relieved to see that third inning. I would’ve liked to see us extend the lead a little more but that inning was key for us to win the game.”
East delivered a run in the fifth inning off Jesse Haase’s sac fly to right field. The ‘Canes trailed 4-1 until the bottom of the seventh.
Justice saw three up, three down and gave the ‘Canes a good opportunity to extend or win the game in their frame of the seventh.
“Justice fills up the strike zone for us,” Newsom said. “It wasn’t him that lost us the ball game in the third inning. We had a lot of defensive mistakes.”
As Lance Fugate advanced home to cut the deficit to two runs, Hayden Seal knocked an RBI sac fly to right field to bring home another run.
But facing two outs, Braxton Hanshaw was thrown out at first base and East just missed the final run it needed to tie the game.
“I sent two freshmen to the plate in the seventh inning,” Newsom said. “They went up there and did what they could. We just made some base running mistakes through the game that killed us today. It wasn’t just the seventh inning for us.”
East is back in action on Friday against South Green at Sherwood Park with a 5:30 p.m. pitch.