Bears' barrage downs Eagles
For four innings Monday night, it looked as though the Sevier County Bears might never get to Seymour pitcher Hunter Neff.
The Eagles' ace was cruising and had allowed just one hit, a second-inning single to Bears' freshman catcher Devante Matthews, before the SCHS backstop approached the plate to lead off the fifth with Sevier trailing 3-0.
It took just one swing of the bat for to the athletic ninth grader to swing the momentum completely to SCHS.
Matthews crushed the first pitch he saw deep into the night sky over the left-center field fence for his first varsity home run.
The shot that left Don Doyle Field also served as a shot in the arm for the Bears. The team promptly scored four more runs in the inning to take a 5-3 lead, and then, after one more inning from SCHS starting pitcher Nick Osborne — who earned the win — ace Dillon Cate came in to close the door on a 5-4 victory.
"Neff's a good pitcher and he was competing his butt off," Sevier County coach Casey Taylor said. "We were trying all night to do something against him, and when we finally did get something (Matthews' HR), it was something."
After Dalton Ford singled and stole second base, and RBI single from Alan Silva cut the Seymour lead to 3-2. Silva advanced to second on a throw home, setting up a Dillon Cate RBI single to knot the game at 3-3.
A Dallas Gossett single and hit batter then loaded the bases for Osborne, who gave himself a 5-3 lead with a two-run single through the Eagles' infield.
Though Seymour would answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to pull within one, Cate would enter in the bottom of the sixth and close the door on Seymour.
"We knew they weren't out of it," Taylor said. "We discussed (bringing in Cate, who's scheduled to start Tuesday). At the end of the day, the one common denominator is, when things get down to it and all bets are off, we're going to Cate and get this one."
The Eagles did manage two base runners in their last raps, on singles from Hunter Neff and Cade Snapp, but fine glove-work from Silva, Dylan Ford and Nick Clabo on a 6-4-3 double-play would kill the threat late and seal the regular-season IMAC championship for the Bears (24-4, 12-1 in the IMAC).
"Cate came in and did what he's done all year," Seymour coach Scott norman said. "You've got to give them credit. They just hit it and made the plays they needed to to win."
Even a loss to the Eagles in Tuesday's regular-season finale at 7 p.m. wouldn't be enough to derail the Bears from their first-place finish and top-seed in the IMAC tournament.
The game will serve as Sevier County's senior night, honoring 12th graders Dillon Cate, Dylan Ford, Nick Clabo, Jeff Henry and Dale Catlett.