Devante Matthews, Sevier County stop Seymour rally in district tournament
It was the definition of a marquee matchup.
Seymour’s Cade Snapp, who Sevier County coach Casey Taylor said was probably the most dangerous hitter in District 2-AAA, was facing the Smoky Bears’ hard-throwing reliever Devante Matthews. Sevier County held onto a three-run lead, precariously, with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
“That’s the moment (Matthews) wants to be in,” Taylor said. “He doesn’t shy away from that.”
The sophomore proved it, striding to the dugout three pitches later with a strikeout and the lead intact. The Eagles couldn’t threaten again in the seventh and the Bears walked away with a 9-5 victory at Cliff Davis Field to stay unbeaten in the first two rounds of the district tournament.
Matthews’ 1 1/3 innings on the mound prevented Seymour from erasing a lead that was once six runs after Sevier County scored seven times in the third. Two-run doubles from Kody Paul and Jacob Whaley were compounded by two errors in the inning. Dalton Ford led the frame with a double before Matthews and Conner both reached on bunts.
“We can’t give a team like Sevierville, or any of these teams, this time of year you can’t give them five outs in an inning,” said Eagles coach Scott Norman. “Other than that, we played good defense.”
The inning was the end of the day on the mound for starting pitcher Larry Kennedy, who took the loss while surrendering the seven runs on four hits.
Seymour bounced back with four in the fifth to make Taylor nervous. The Eagles needed only two hits that inning, including a two-run double from Kennedy, to plate the four runs. Sevier County starter Nick Osborne had three free passes and a wild pitch in the frame.
Osborne escaped the fifth with one of his four strikeouts but got in trouble again an inning later. He was pulled after giving up five runs on four hits, making way for Matthews.
“Coach Taylor puts me through that experience all the time,” Matthews said. “It’s basically just man up and play the game of baseball.”
Sevier County now is off until Tuesday when its opponent will have to win twice to eliminate the Smoky Bears. Seymour plays Monday in an elimination game against either Morristown East or Cherokee for another shot at Sevier County.
“(Matthews) threw (Snapp) some good pitches,” Norman said. “He just won the battle. Hopefully we’ll get another battle.”