Boyd-Buchanan’s final regular-season baseball game Thursday provided an opportunity for an unbeaten District 5-A record. It also was the day set aside to honor the three seniors whose careers are coming to a close.
Regardless of what he pointed out, though, Buccaneers coach Josh Rider could do little more than watch an uninspired team muddle its way through an 11-5 victory over visiting Grace Academy.
“Uninspired? It showed at the plate, on defense and in our pitching,” Rider said.
The Bucs (23-9, 8-0), who built a 5-0 lead through three innings, gave up three runs in the fourth and two in the sixth and were forced to score in two of their last three at-bats. They had only two errors but walked six and committed several mental blunders, including throwing to the wrong base, throwing late and loafing down the first-base line on a ball that dropped in.
As bad as the Bucs looked, they had company.
“It was sloppy — on both sides, although Boyd-Buchanan did a good job of capitalizing on our mistakes,” Grace coach Ruston Pierce said. “Both teams knew this game didn’t matter, and you could tell it.”
Grace (11-11, 4-2) committed six errors.
The Golden Eagles’ problems began when doctors would not clear Cooper Wittman to play. Wittman, who has a 5-2 record and was scheduled to pitch against the Bucs, has been sidelined with sinus and upper respiratory infections.
“We’re short of depth, but when we have everybody healthy and in the right position, we have a pretty good team,” said Pierce.
Top seed Boyd-Buchanan will sit until Monday, when it will host the winner of a district tournament play-in game between Arts & Sciences and Copper Basin. Grace, though, has to turn around and play Silverdale Baptist today for the right to host the other 5-A semifinal Monday.
“Whether we’re No. 2 or No. 3, we know we’ll be playing them on Monday,” Pierce said. “It’s just a matter of where it’s played.”
Rider did have one comforting discovery Thursday. He moved John Hale, the normal leadoff hitter, down in the order to allow the seniors to bat in the first three slots. The fleet sophomore went 3-for-3 with a two-run single in the second inning, a run-scoring single in the third, a double in the fifth and a sacrifice play in the sixth. He scored twice.
“It’s good to see him swing the bat, especially when he’s looking at fastballs,” Rider said.
A regular starter who moved into the No. 1 slot, Taylor Eldridge reached base on all of his five at-bats and scored two runs, and shortstop Tyler Garner went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Grace’s Logan Long was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Justin Johnston was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...