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By GOOSE LINDSAY
The Harriman Middle School Blue Devils saved their best for last Friday night as Wayne Best’s squad rolled to an 11-4 victory over Lenoir City in the TMSAA district championship game.
“I thought our boys came out and played like baseball players tonight,” Blue Devil head coach Wayne Best said. “They came out focused from the start and played some good baseball. They represented the Harriman community and school well.”
One player that definitely came out focused was big right-hander Chase Randolph. Randolph was on top of his game, allowing only two hits, one walk and one hit batter while recording an amazing 18 strikeouts in seven innings of work.
“It wouldn’t have mattered if we played 12 innings tonight; he was throwing that well,” Best said. “It sure makes it a lot easier when he’s pitching like that.”
Randolph also had a big day at the plate as he went 3-3 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
Randolph’s first hit came in the top of the first inning as his two-out double brought in T.J. Kirkland. Kirkland singled earlier in the inning.
Lenoir City, however, did tie things up in the bottom of the inning as a single and three-base error made the score 1-1.
Harriman took the lead for good with two runs in the top of the third inning.
Jason Lee opened the inning with a single and he was joined on the base paths when Kirkland walked with one out. Randolph then came up with hit number two, a single that scored both runs.
Harriman finally blew things open with seven runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Lee, Kirkland, Randolph, Grant Jenkins, Brantley Diggs and Chase Hamby all had hits in the inning while Dillon Reynolds and Dylan Mullins walked. All but Diggs scored as Harriman took a commanding 10-1 lead.
“We’d all seen him once (Lenoir City’s pitcher) and we started figuring him out,” Best said. “We got a couple of guys on then everybody started hitting.”
Harriman did have one bad inning on their way to the title and that came in the bottom of the sixth inning as Lenoir City parlayed one dropped third strike and four errors into three runs that made the score 10-4.
Harriman closed the scoring with a single run in the top of the seventh inning.
Grant Jenkins reached safely on a fielder’s choice and scored when Jacob Nelson reached on an error with two outs.
Besides Randolph, Lee (2-3, 1 RBI, 2 runs), Kirkland (2-3, 1 RBI, 2 runs) and Jenkins (2-3, 1 RBI, 2 runs) had multiple hits for Harriman in the win.