Samuel Davenport had the best of several worlds Friday in Chattanooga Christian’s opening game in the District 7-AA baseball tournament.
The senior went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He or his courtesy runner scored three runs.
As the Chargers’ pitcher, he was staked to a five-run lead in their first at-bat, leaving him room to work on a two-seam fastball that was effective in a 10-0 semifinal victory over Bledsoe County.
He wound up with a five-hitter and eight strikeouts, improving on an earlier-season performance in which he allowed the Warriors a couple of runs. His record is 8-1.
“I was thinking keeping it low and executing,” Davenport said. “I’ve been working on a two-seam fastball, and it seemed to bite pretty good a couple of times.”
The victory avenged the Chargers’ only district loss of the year and put them in the tournament’s winners-bracket final against whoever won between Notre Dame and Grundy County in a game later Friday night at Coalmont.
The tournament moves to Sequatchie County today. CCS will play at 4, after Bledsoe meets the Grundy-Notre Dame loser at 1.
Davenport’s performance came as no surprise to John Visser, and the Chargers coach was delighted with the team’s offense and defense.
“I knew Samuel could hold them down, but when we pitch well, hit and field we can be an above-average team,” Visser said.
The Chargers parlayed six first-inning hits with two Bledsoe errors for the five runs. The big blows were two-run doubles by Chase Caldwell and Garrett Woody. CCS had just one strikeout as a team, and that, ironically, came in the midst of the first-inning outbreak.
The Chargers in effect put the game away in the second on Davenport’s run-scoring double and an RBI groundout by Chris Weber. They ended the game early in the sixth on RBI singles from Caldwell and Levi Corbett, who also singled in a run in the first.
The Chargers treaded water in the third, fourth and fifth innings, sending only one batter over the minimum to the plate in that span.
“We hit the ball well early and then kind of got out on our front foot against their second pitcher,” Visser said. “We lost our focus. I think when we got up seven we maybe over-relaxed.”
About the only thing he could find to critique even mildly was the Chargers’ baserunning. Bledsoe catcher Garth Pendergrass caught at least three of them trying to swipe a base, and it wasn’t even close.
“We were trying to steal on the pitcher and not the catcher,” Visser said. “We kept telling the guys to get bigger leads, and they just wouldn’t do it. You have to read moves, and we obviously weren’t reading very well.”
Bledsoe coach Dustin Smith, whose team beat CCS 5-3 in Pikeville but then lost to the Chargers 8-2 in the regular season, said his team has played from behind all season.
“We did it earlier this year when we beat them. We had opportunities and just couldn’t get the key hit,” he said.
The Warriors stranded two runners in the first, second, third and fifth innings.
Part of that was due to Davenport, who seemed to bear down with runners in scoring position. He ended the second and third innings with strikeouts and got a key second out in the fifth with a strikeout before inducing a fielder’s choice.
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 ...