Sevier County must rebound from 11-0 loss in sectionals
May has been good to the Sevier County baseball team.
The Smoky Bears started the month with five straight playoff wins, all within the confines of Cliff Davis Field. From Austin Conner’s walk-off homer in the district championship game to a comfortable six-run victory over Science Hill in the region semifinals, Sevier County had the momentum everyone is looking for in the tournament.
That is, until Dobyns-Bennett came to Sevierville on Wednesday and knocked all the Bears’ good vibes out of the park with an 11-0 victory in the Region 1-AAA championship game.
“You portray it into a positive that you’re still in it but it’s a big deal for a high school kid to come out and just get waxed,” said Sevier County coach Casey Taylor. “Turn around and get a dose of (ace Patrick) Raby at Farragut. That’s a tough hill to climb. Scooping these guys up off the ground is not an easy task.”
It’s the challenge facing Taylor now. The Bears (28-13) will have to win on the road for the first time this postseason on Friday to stay alive in a sectional playoff game against the Admirals. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
Sevier County will want that game to go better than Wednesday’s rout. Four Bears pitchers combined to issue 10 walks. The game was halted after five innings thanks to a Newley Burton grand slam in the fifth after reliever Jake Hall had walked in a run.
The news was just as bad at the plate where Indians pitcher Caleb Cook struck out nine and retired 13 of the last 14 he faced. He only gave up one hit, a Devante Matthews single in the fourth.
“He keeps the ball low,” said Bears first baseman Austin Conner. “He’s a good pitcher. He has a really good breaking ball and he can throw it for a strike. In high school baseball, if you can get a curve ball across and you can throw fastballs in spots, you’re going to be hard to beat.”
Sevier County gave Cook a run early when leadoff man Sammy Salyers scored on an error after reaching on a walk. The lead ballooned in the fourth thanks to three walks and two errors. Kurt Mattioda reached when his grounder to first got by Conner, allowing Cook to score.
Salyers reached two batters later on a ground ball to Alan Silva that was thrown out of the reach of Conner at first, allowing another run to score. Conner briefly collided with Salyers, who later came home on an RBI single from Payton Marshall to make it 5-0.
“That’s something we weren’t expecting, for our defense to play poorly,” Taylor said. “We had a couple plays at that position we could’ve handled. We had a couple plays at other positions we could’ve handled. But that’s not going to dictate the outcome of that ball game. Today, clearly they’re a much better ball team than we are.”
Now, the Bears must try to prove Wednesday’s loss was just a fluke in a dominating stretch of play this May. It’s the second straight year Sevier County has had to travel Farragut for a spot at the state tournament and probable starting pitcher Nick Osborne said he’s ready.
“I think we’ll come out more hungry than we were, looking to bounce back,” Osborne said. “I think we were on a bit of a hangover because Science Hill is one of the premier teams in this area and we beat them. We were really excited about that. Coming into today we were still hyped on that game. We were focused on the other bracket. Now we know what we need to do and just go do it. That’s all there is.”