GREENEVILLE — Thanks to a complete team effort, Morristown is heading to another Tennessee Little League Baseball State Tournament.
Coach Stiel Lovin’s club banged out a dozen hits and Chasen Lovin tossed a four-inning, no-hitter as Morristown earned the berth with a 10-0 rout of Rogersville Saturday morning at Optimist Field at Hardin Park in the District 4 Tournament championship.
The champs will now play in Bristol in quest of Morristown’s first state title since 2002. The tournament starts on Saturday with Morristown taking on District Six winner Maryville at 2:30 p.m.
After winning its first two games in the district despite not playing its best baseball, Morristown put it together on Saturday.
The winners exploded for all of its runs against three Rogersville pitchers in the second inning and that was more than enough for the pitching of Lovin.
He allowed just three baserunners on two bases on balls and a hit batter. He didn’t allow a runner to reach second base and struck out eight.
Coach Lovin said, “We had a great mindset today and came out here and played a complete baseball game.
“I felt we hit the ball really well, especially in that second inning,” he added. “We made the plays on defense and Chasen pitched fantastic. We took control early and played the way we thought we were going to play all week.”
In talking about the pitching, Lovin remarked. “In our first two games, we had worked at keeping out pitchers eligible to pitch but today we didn’t have a limit on what they did because the tournament was going to end.”
He was referring to the fact that had Rogersville won there would have been a second tilt to decide the champion. But the way his little brother pitched, he didn’t have to worry about it.
“I thought he did a great job. He stayed in front of most of the batters and kept them off the bases. That’s what we need is our pitcher coming out and throwing strikes.”
Chasen didn’t do bad at the plate either as he and Cadence Beaver both had two hits in the huge second inning. Bryson Shepard also had two hits in the game as those three led a 12-hit attack.
“Cadence did a great job today when she got her first start,” said the coach. “I was really proud of her. She’s worked really hard in practice and deserved the start and then she came out here and took advantage of it.”
Beaver knocked in three runs with her double and single.
The coach said the state tournament was a goal his team had in mind from the start of practice but they want to accomplish more than reaching the state. “We have high expectations for ourselves. This team has a good work ethic and accomplished one of our goals.
“We tell them all the time to stay within us and play for us,” he said. “Now, we want to go to the state and do some damage. We’ve got the arms and bats and things we can do some things there. We feel we’re one of the best teams in the state and we want to go and prove it.”
Coach Lovin added, “We had a lot of fans here today and it’s really great to see all the support Morristown has shown us. It was a big day for us to play well.”
His coaching staff consists of his father, Phillip, and also Brian Shepard. “They do a tremendous job. Having my dad coaching with me is really something. His teams have won a lot of games for Morristown in tournaments and now he’s helping me win games. It’s just a great feeling.”
Phillip Lovin has coached numerous all-star teams and won a junior league (13-14) state championship in 2016.
Saturday’s game got off to a slow start as pretty hard rain fell just as the teams took the field to start. After a short delay, Morristown went to work, getting two hits in the first without scoring.
But that certainly wasn’t the same in the second when the champions paraded 14 batters to the plate with nine of them getting hits.
Singles by Lovin and Isaac Greene and a walk to Charlie Dewald loaded the bases for Beaver. She promptly laced a double to score two runs.
Shepard scored a run with a hit before Riley Short reached on a strike out to load the bases. The third run scored as Gavin Mitchell got on by a fielder’s choice that didn’t get anyone out.
Left fielder Grant Morelock made a great catch on a scorching drive off the bat of Malakhi Isom for the first out but Paxton Seal plated a pair of runs with a base hit.
Lovin got his second hit to score one and Greene’s ground out delivered another. Before the inning was over Dewald doubled in a run and Beaver’s single made it 10-0. Julian Sexton added a double but the runner was out trying to score.
Morristown had runners in both of the final innings, one on a hit by John Michael Roper, but didn’t score any more runs.
Levi Charles was the starting pitcher for Rogersville and took the loss. Parker Travis was the next pitcher before Morelock came on to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Senior League Girls
Bean Station 5,
PORTLAND — The Morristown Senior League All-Stars dropped their opener in the state tournament in Portland, falling to Bean Station 5-2.
The game wasn’t without controversy as Bean Station players were accused of using an illegal bat. Though no in game penalty was levied, Little League rules allow for the loss of a base coach on first offense. However, Senior League coach Robert Darnell said he was told that since the infraction was not noticed during the at-bat, no punishment could be levied.
Darnell said the remainder of the game was played under protest, but he was quick to say that the illegal bat was not the difference in the game.
Bean Station jumped out to an early lead as Tyrah White drew a lead off walk and Carrle Phifer ripped a two-out double. Phifer later came around to score.
After going down in order in the first, Alexis Brown and Alexa Long led off the second with singles for Morristown but the rally died without a Morristown runner crossing the plate.
Bean Station added three more in the second.
McKensee Greene doubled and White added a single, followed by a Shaunta Coffee double. Phifer doubled and scored to finish the offensive attack for Bean Station.
“We hit the ball but we were unable to get hits with runners in scoring position,” Darnell said. “We just didn’t hit the ball when we needed to.”
Morristown rallied in the third as Madison DeVotie popped a two out single. Lexi Carter drew a walk and Leah Cantwell doubled to put Morristown in business, driving in both runs.
Morristown had a couple of chances to cut into the lead as Long and starting pitcher Victoria Darnell singled in the fourth and Carter walked, Cantwell singled and Brown doubled in the fifth. Morristown was unable to push a run across.
The Morristown All-Stars were scheduled to play again Saturday afternoon, but the game was delayed by weather before getting a late start. Morristown led Bristol, 6-3, in the third inning when the game was stopped. It was set to resume Sunday morning at 9 a.m.