HARROGATE, Tenn. — Jeremy Tindell turned in a strong effort on the mound to lead the Grainger Grizzlies to a 12-5 win over Cumberland Gap on Friday.
Tindell struck out ten while giving up just one run on four hits and a walk over six innings to get the win, which clinches the number two seed for the District 2-AA Tournament for Grainger (9-3 in district play).
Cumberland Gap coach Nick Huckaby made the tough decision to use senior pitchers Matt Wade and Nathan Hatmaker for just two innings apiece so they would be available for Monday’s game at South Greene. That game will now determine whether the Panthers or West Greene will be the three or four seed for the tournament.
“The Tindell kid is a quality arm and once we got down 4-1, I had to make that decision as a coach. Could we score five? We ended up scoring five, but it wasn’t on him,” Huckaby said. “A 4-3 loss is the same as a 12-5 loss, that was our idea. We played hard, it was just one of those games.”
Grainger scored one run in the first as Trey Cabbage singled with two out, stole second and then scored as Jeff Kiser reaced on an error. In the third Corey Bates doubled and then scored the second Grizzly run when Aaron Farrow reached on an error. Wade hit two batters to load the bases, then threw out Cabbage at the plate on a squeeze play. A single by Tindell made it 3-0.
Hatmaker took over to close out the third inning and helped Cumberland Gap get on the board in the bottom of the fourth. He doubled, went to third on a passed ball and then scored on a ground out by Jake Elliott.
Tyler Douglas had an RBI single in the top of the fifth for Grainger and Zach Long added a two-run single off Jonathan Lorens to stretch the lead to 6-1. The Grizzlies put the game away with six runs in the top of the seventh. Long had a two-run double, Cabbage an two-run single while Bates and Kiser also drove in runs in the frame.
Down 12-1, Cumberland Gap didn’t fold up the tents. They scored four runs off Cabbage in the bottom of the seventh to make the final score respectable.
Nolan Rutherford and Joe Gidens were both hit by pitches to start the inning and Gavin Burns walked one out later. Brandon Bailey drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder and Hatmaker added an RBI infield single before Elliott ripped a two-run base hit back up the middle to close out the scoring.
“We’re scrappy and that’s a quality that I really like about our team. We’re not real talented, we don’t have the best pitchers or the best hitters but collectively as a team we’re tough and they don’t give up,” Huckaby said. “That’s something that should be admired and I think it has a lot to do with senior leadership.
“I’m proud of them for not giving up. It’s a tough way to lose your last home game, but there’s a lot a baseball ahead of us.”
Hatmaker went 4-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI to pace the Cumberland Gap defense while Elliott had the other hits and drove in three runs.
The Panthers (13-9, 7-4) visit South Greene on Monday. The District 2-AA Tournament starts next Friday at Tusculum College in Greeneville.
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Grainger…102 030 6 — 12 13 0
Cumb. Gap..000 100 4 — 5 6 3
Tindell, Cabbage (7) and Farrow; Wade, Hatmaker (3), Lorens (5), Burns (7) and Bailey. W-Tindell. L-Wade.