Greeneville defeats Grainger in District Championship game

The Grainger Grizzlies finished Runner-Up in the district tournament on Thursday, falling to Greeneville. The Grizz will be on the road for their Region Tournament opener. 

JEFFERSON CITY – After losing to Greeneville in the first game of Wednesday’s district tournament title game, Grainger knew they were going to have to play almost flawlessly in Thursday’s second game. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, that didn’t happen.

The Greene Devils used a combination of timely hits, good pitching and took advantage of Grainger miscues to win the tournament championship with an 8-1 victory at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex at Carson-Newman. The biggest problem for the Grizzlies was the inability to get hits with men on base as they left eight runners on and head coach Garrett Yates said it was just a situation of history repeating itself. “That is a reaccuring theme as (Wednesday) we left 10 on base. We had more hits than they did yesterday and only gave up two earned runs. The bottom line was we knew we needed to win yesterday because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have a lot of arms left. I have said for a long time that Greeneville is a very good baseball team and have said for as young as they are, they would only get better. Early in the year they made some young mistakes but to (Greeneville head coach Andy) Collins’ credit, he’s a very good coach and he got it cleaned up.”

Greeneville rode the arm of starting pitcher and tournament MVP Parker Shipley to the win as he went six innings with seven strikeouts, five walks and three hits given up. Hunter Smith took the hard-luck loss for Grainger but Yates said his starting pitcher proved how much of a warrior he is this week. “I couldn’t be more proud than I am of Hunter. He threw 75 pitches on Monday, came back and threw 105 today on two days rest. He did all he could do. We gave Greeneville runs today, don’t get me wrong, they beat us, but we just can’t give runs away like that. We didn’t do terrible at the plate but we couldn’t string anything together.”

Things went Grainger’s way to begin the game as Eli May singled and later advanced to third on an error by the Greene Devils. He came home when Brady Smith reached on a fielder’s choice to make it 1-0. That’s how things stood until Greeneville exploded for five runs in the top of the third inning. Preston Justice started things off with a triple to right field and was batted in on Shipley’s single. Ty Casteel had a two RBI hit down the left field line and then Anderson Franklin delivered the biggest blow of the inning when he doubled to left center field, scoring two, and then he was able to come all the way around to score on an error by the Grizzlies.

Greeneville added two more runs in the top of the fifth when Carson Quillen scored on a passed ball and Castell drove in Colton Richards. The final run of the game came in the Greeneville seventh when Franklin scored on a Kobe Mundy single to right field to produce the 8-1 final tally.

Grainger did have two highlights on defense as Ryland Burchett came up throwing on a heads-up play to gun Franklin down at third when he was trying to stretch for an extra base. “That was impressive,” Yates said of Burchett’s defensive play. In the sixth, Shipley hit a ball high into the air in foul territory which looked as if it would drop harmlessly to the turf but Brady Smith came out of no where from his shortstop position to somehow snag the ball for the third out of the inning. “I told Brady that I’m not sure if people appreciate how impressive that was,” Yates said of the web gem. “He ran as far as he could and with the way he caught it, basically not looking but to still catch it like that, it was impressive. But that’s Brady.”

Despite the loss, Grainger lives to play on as they will be in the regionals which take place on Monday. As the tourney runners-up, they will have to travel to upper East Tennessee to face either Tennessee High or Sullivan East. “We still have a lot to play for,” Yates said. “This one is going to sting but we have to get over it and move on. It’s baseball.”

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