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By GOOSE LINDSAY
With their postseason life on the line, the Rockwood Tigers scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday night to knock off Tellico Plains, 9-8, in the Dixie Youth District 8 AAA Tournament and secure a berth in the Dixie Youth AAA State Tournament.
Rockwood was actually down to their last strike when Bryson Bayless scored on a wild pitch that tied the game at 8-8. Austin Lowe then provided the biggest hit of his young life when he singled home Dalton Monroe with the game-winning run.
Rockwood's victory, however, ended Kingston's dreams of a state tournament appearance. Rockwood and Tellico Plains both ended the round robin tournament with a 3-1 record while Kingston finished with a 2-2 mark.
Besides beating Tellico Plains, Rockwood beat Sweetwater, 10-2, and Kingston, 9-7. Rockwood's lone loss came against Madisonville, 9-8.
Kingston beat Madisonville, 9-1, and Sweetwater, 9-7, with their other loss being a 10-6 setback at the hands of Tellico Plains.
A big fourth inning was the difference Friday night as the Tigers broke open a 2-1 game with seven big runs in the fourth inning.
Lowe and Monroe combined for Rockwood's final run of the tournament and they also scored the Tigers first two runs in the second inning against Sweetwater.
Leading 2-1 heading into the fourth inning, Rockwood took advantage of eight hits and one walk to score seven runs and put the game away. Dee Sturgill, Monroe, Lowe, Alex Wampler, Jordan Hardy, Bayless and Bradley Goodman all scored for Rockwood in the big seventh inning.
Rockwood's final run came in the top of the fifth inning as Jackson Hicks scored after reaching safely on a hit earlier in the inning.
Kingston and Madisonville were involved in a close game early, but the Jackets scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to pull out the eight-run victory.
Neither team scored in the first two innings before Kingston took the lead for good with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Bryson McCormick and Jacob Whittenbarger both had hits for Kingston in the third inning with McCormick scoring the run.
Kingston's four-run fourth inning was highlighted by Nikolas Smith, Brandon Plemens, Noah Cash and Tommy Jordan all crossing the plate while McCormick, Whittenbarger, Cash and Chris Johnson all scored in the fifth inning.
Madisonville scored their only run in the top of the sixth inning.
Rockwood 9 Kingston 7
A big fourth inning keyed Rockwood's victory over Sweetwater and Saturday it was a big first inning that gave the Tigers the lift they needed. Rockwood scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning and then held on for the 9-7 victory.
Jordan Hardy opened Rockwood's half of the first inning by reaching on an error and that was followed by hits from Goodman and Sturgill before Dylan Johnson walked. Monroe, Wampler and Nathan Briley followed with hits as Rockwood took the early lead.
The score remained 6-0 until Kingston scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning. Plemens, Cash, Colby Nelson, Jordan, Tony Curry and McCormick all had hits for Kingston in the frame as the Jackets closed to within 6-5.
Rockwood got two of those runs back in the bottom of the inning with Lowe and Briley crossing the plate.
Kingston pulled to within 8-7 with two runs in the top of the fifth inning as Jerame Brown, Cash, Jordan and Curry all reached safely with Brown and Cash scoring runs.
Rockwood's final run came in the bottom of the frame with Monroe scoring.
Kingston 9 Sweetwater 7
The Jackets and Wildcats battled back and forth Monday evening, but in the end it would be Kingston picking up the two-run victory.
Kingston led 2-1 after one inning of play, but the score would be tied at 2-2 after two innings of play. The Jackets outscored Sweetwater 3-2 in each of the next two innings before each team scored one run in the fifth inning. Neither team scored in the sixth inning as Kingston held on for the win.
Nelson led Kingston with three runs on the day while Johnson added two. Smith, Cash, Curry and Logan Adams scored one run each for the Jackets.
Tellico Plains 10
In what turned out to be a game for a state tournament berth on Tuesday, the Bears scored four runs in extra innings to down the Jackets, 10-6.
Kingston appeared to be in good shape Tuesday as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead after one inning of play. Cash, Jordan, Curry and Smith all scored runs for Kingston in the opening inning.
Kingston made it 5-1 in the third inning as Nelson scored.
Tellico Plains didn't score again until the fifth inning when they scored two runs to make the score 5-3, but Johnson scored for Kingston in the bottom of the frame to make the score 6-3.
The three-run lead seemed safe heading into the final inning of play, but Tellico Plains scored three runs in the sixth inning to tie the score then the Bears scored four more runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out the victory.
The Tigers could have wrapped up their state tourney berth Tuesday night with a victory over Madisonville, but Rockwood dropped a one-run contest in extra innings.
Rockwood took an early lead when Bayless scored in the first inning, but Madisonville scored six runs in the second inning to take command of the contest.
Briley scored for Rockwood in the third inning to pull the Tigers to within 6-2 then the Tigers scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-6 lead.
Hardy, Briley, Bayless, Monroe and Sturgill all scored runs for Rockwood in the fifth inning while Goodman and Lowe also had hits.
Hardy also scored for Rockwood in the sixth inning, but Madisonville scored two runs in the frame to tie the game at 8-8.
Rockwood went down in order in the seventh inning while Madisonville scored one run to earn the victory.
Tellico Plains 8
Tellico Plains had already wrapped up a state tournament berth entering Wednesday's contest and the Bears were one out away from finishing the round robin tournament with an unbeaten record before Rockwood's two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Rockwood did grab the early lead with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Hicks doubled and scored the first run on an single from Monroe. Bayless walked and scored the second run on a bases loaded walk to Sturgill.
Tellico Plains scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead, but the Tigers answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-3 lead.
Briley and Hardy both reached on errors and scored when Bayless reached on an error with two outs.
The Bears again scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead, but Rockwood answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to make the score 7-6.
All three of Rockwood's runs came with two outs and none on as Johnson (single), Lowe (HBP) and Briley (double) all scored with Hardy driving in the final two runs with a single.
Tellico Plains regained the lead at 8-7 with two runs in the top of the sixth inning, but another Rockwood rally capped by Lowe's single would send the AAA Tigers to the state tournament for the first time in 23 years.