By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The 14u Big South Regional Gold Bracket Championship game had thunder from the ball hitting the bat, and in the sky around Jim Warren Park on Monday, as the Nashville Knights Platinum took an 8-6 victory over ITP Lightning (Caldwell) from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Knights were undefeated (6-0) in the three-day tournament and handed ITP Lightning (5-1) its only loss in the final game.
“We had all our guys back, and I thought we played very cohesively and got a lot of clutch hits. We were really good on the mound, everybody contributed, and that’s what I was really happy about,” said Knights’ head coach Chad Biles. “We were in control for most of our games. All of it comes from the kids. They were very concentrated and into every inning.”
The Knights got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Brantley Bamberg drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground ball to the shortstop before stealing third. Bamberg scored on a throwing error after Trey Hunter hit a double to right center, and Hunter later scored on an error to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.
The Lightning answered back with a run of their own in the top of the second inning. Mason Stephenson reached first on a single to second base and then advanced to third on a double down the rightfield line by Charles Lindsay. Stephenson scored on a wild pitch to cut the Knights lead in half, 2-1.
Nashville added two more runs in the fifth. Bamberg hit a double down the leftfield line and went to third on a single to left by Harrison Gant, before Trey Hunter drove him on a single to center for a 3-1 lead. Gant scored on a balk later in the inning to give the Knights a 4-1 advantage.
The Lightning tied the game, 4-4, in the top of the sixth after Francisco Armstrong got the rally started with a single to center. Kai Cunningham followed with a double, and then a bases-clearing, two-RBI triple by Robert Clarke made it 4-3. Clarke later scored on a fielder’s choice by Lindsay.
The Knights strung together four runs in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead. Pinch hitter Nick Judd collected a leadoff walk and moved second on a sacrifice bunt by Creed McLellan. The next batter, Nathan Peay, took his base on balls before Bamberg reached base for the third time in the game on a single through the left side to load the bases for Gant.
Coach Biles called for a suicide squeeze, and Gant delivered a perfect bunt to allow everyone to be safe on the bunt single. Carter stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and could have possibly taken an inside fastball to put him on base, but instead smacked a two-RBI single to center. A misplayed ball in center allowed a third run to score and moved Carter to third, giving the Knights an 8-4 edge.
Carter’s single came after turning his back on a fastball in the at bat, to which the crowd reacted.
“It did give me motivation to get a base hit. It also made me mad, and I said, ‘this ball is done with,’ and I just tried to hit it right back up the middle just like our coaches teach us,” Carter said. “I felt confident about this game. We were getting hyped right before the game and we were ready to play this game. We all just played together and I felt like I was on a really good hitting streak.”
The Lightning did not go down quietly, as they got a rally started on a single to left by Nate Lyons and a walk to Hayes Woley. Cunningham brought in Lyons on a single to right center and Clarke reached on a double to right to put the winning run at the plate, but the game ended on a fly out to center.
Bamberg scored three of the Knights’ eight runs as the leadoff hitter.
“When I get on base coach gives me the green light to steal bases, and I think that gives my teammates a better opportunity to drive me in,” Bamberg said. “I have not been hitting good for a while, and it felt good to hit and drive some runs in. It was a good game both ways. I think we came out on top because we drove the ball better and played better defense. We all came in clutch spots and did what we needed to do.”
Nashville starting pitcher Justin Battle went five innings, striking out six Lightning hitters and allowing one earned run. Carter collected the win in relief, despite allowing three earned runs to tie the game. He struck out two. Jackson Underwood closed the game in the seventh, allowing two earned runs and striking out one.
The Big South Regional is the Knights’ first championship win of the summer after finishing runner-up in a couple of championship games before this one.
In other 14u action, Fury Performance claimed the Silver Bracket with a 5-4 win over the Clarksville Orioles and Cross Hit Red came out on top in the consolation bracket.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Viper Baseball Academy from Brownsboro, Alabama defeated the Clarksville (Tenn.) Orioles, 7-2, to complete a sweep of its final day of pool play in the 14U Big South Regional Championships on Sunday at Jim Warren Park.
“Our biggest issue all season has been throwing strikes, and in both games we played today we had a total of three walks as a pitching staff. We pounded the strike zone today just as well as we have seen all summer. Our biggest key is to pound the zone as much as possible,” said head coach Blake Talley. “Hitting wise we were finally getting the bats going. We transition from wood to aluminum a lot, and I think we are transitioning to aluminum bats again.”
Earlier Sunday, Viper defeated Foutch (Mich.), 11-1, after falling to ITP Lightning (Ga.), 7-4, on Saturday. The win over Clarksville puts VBA runner-up in Pool D.
“I think going into bracket play we have some pitching left; we are 2-1 so we are not going to be a high seed, but we will be up there so I am excited. I’m glad the boys are coming together and we are not allowing too many free bases,” Talley said.
Viper Baseball Academy got its scoring started in the second inning on a two-RBI double by Chance Griner that brought in Jarett Mason and Ephram Milne to give them a 2-0 lead.
The big inning for VBA was the third, scoring five runs. The inning started on a leadoff walk taken by Stran Sawyer, then a single by Brady Merriweather and a single by Andy Locker. This brought up Alex Wade with the bases loaded and nobody out. He hit a two-RBI double to right to give them a 4-0 lead. Wade later scored on a RBI single to right by Connor Ford, who scored on a Landon Baeder RBI single to right.
“I was looking for a fastball that the coaches told me to look for. I saw one well and I hit it well,” Wade said. “I think driving in the three runs for the game helped us win, because we won by quite a bit, and it got the team excited.”
Clarksville answered back in the top of the fourth with a run of its own. Charlie Davis hit a single up the middle and advanced to third on two wild pitches, giving Brody Lanham the opportunity to drive him in as he hit a double to left center to close the gap, 7-1. The final run of the game came in the top of the seventh. It started by an infield single to second by Brody Lanham, and then Lanham moved to third on two wild pitches and was brought in on a RBI double down the left field line by Eli Burchett for a final score of 7-2.
Merriweather went 3-for-3 at the dish with a double, two singles and run scored to lead VBA.
“I was trying to stay loaded on my backside and make sure I commanded the baseball well,” Merriweather said. “I was just sitting on a fastball and trying to hit it and make contact on it and hit the ball hard.”
Bracket play begins Monday morning at 8 a.m. CT. The 14U Gold Bracket championship game is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. at Jack Warren Park.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Nashville Mad Mavericks of Spring Hill, Tennessee defeated the Fury Performance from Woodstock, Georgia, 4-1, Sunday to collect their first pool play win at the 14U Big South Regional Championships at Jim Warren Park. The score might not indicate it, but Mad Mavericks’ pitchers John Dippold and Ingram Hitt threw a combined no-hitter during the game.
“We were throwing strikes early in the game; John Dippold did an awesome job of locating his fastball well and changing speeds well,” said head coach Bobby Morgan. “The defense played well and had no errors on the field.
“Ingram came in to finish off the game; he got into a little bit of trouble, but we got out of it. On the offensive side one big inning leads to four runs with back to back to back hits. It was a good overall victory.”
The Mad Mavericks’ big inning came in the fourth, getting started on a triple by Bryson Hammons, who came into score on Gunner Haskins’ sacrifice fly to left. Grant Morgan hit a single through the right side and the next batter, Nic Raum, hit a single up the middle to put runners on first and second.
John Cannella then walked to give a bases-loaded opportunity to Brady Pemberton, who did not miss. Pemberton hit a two-RBI double to left to give the Mad Mavericks a 3-0 lead. The other run scored on a ground ball to short by Hitt for a 4-0 cushion.
Despite no hits as a team, the Furys managed a run in the fifth inning after David Neubert was hit by a pitch. Tyler Stevenson ran the bases for Neubert and scored on a RBI groundout by Brenden O’Sullivan.
Dippold received the win after five innings of work. He struck out six, but said the team’s no-hitter was special because he relied on his defense.
“It felt good to throw a no-hitter without having my best stuff on the mound today,” Dippold said. “When the Fury put the ball in play my defense made the plays, and they played great all around today with no errors.”
Hitt closed out the final two innings of the game with two Ks and also credited the defense working behind him
“I didn’t have my best stuff as well, but the defense played great behind us,” Hitt said.
Pemberton’s double in the fourth inning was his only hit, but proved to be half of the Mad Mavericks’ run support.
“I was in a 3-2 count, and he gave me a low inside fastball. I turned on it and sent it to left field down the line. It was big, because it put us up 3-0 at the time then the next kid (Ingram Hitt) hit a ground ball to short, which was big for the game,” Pemberton said.