The postgame confab in front of the Baylor dugout was brief. Red Raiders baseball coach Gene Etter had said most all he wanted to say in a pregame chat.
It was important that the team win all three games of its weekend series with Montgomery Bell Academy, and Baylor had won a weather-hampered doubleheader Friday night. The importance wasn't just winning the series, and Etter tried to hammer home the need to win every Division II East/Middle game for postseason seeding purposes.
"Going in I let them know that every game counted as much as any other," the veteran coach said.
It was not a lack of hitting or defense that kept the Red Raiders from fulfilling their mission, and the pitching wasn't so much out of line as it was off-kilter. The Red Raiders managed 10 hits and committed no errors. The pitchers allowed just four hits, which for Etter would have been peachy, but also surrendered seven walks, and several of those came in front of timely singles or doubles.
"You give up four hits, you expect to win," Etter said.
Baylor's woes began from the outset, junior lefty McLain Bachus walking the first two before getting an out. He then got just a little too much of the plate with a first-pitch strike to Jakes Kay, and MBA's cleanup hitter rocketed a two-run shot off the right-center-field fence. Bachus walked another but then induced an inning-ending double play from Alex Kohls, the opposing pitcher.
While Kohls kept the Red Raiders scoreless in the first two innings, Bachus had no such luck. He got the first two Big Red batters in the second but then walked the No. 9 and leadoff hitters on nine pitches. Jody Gorham's single loaded the bases and Henry Beveridge followed with a three-run double and came home on a wild pitch.
"The only thing I can think is that [Bachus] was nervous," Etter said. "This was his first start but he had pitched well in some tight games -- getting three up, three down twice, I believe -- and he had pitched for us in the state last year."
A bright spot for the coach had to be the showing from reliever Taylor Burgess, who stomped out the rally with a high pop-fly to first. Burgess wound up retiring all 10 batters he faced, including four with strikeouts, to keep the Big Red from any more offensive damage.
Baylor scored two runs in the third inning. Jackson Cooper walked and John Tipton singles down the third-base line. Brandon Robertson walked to load the bases, and Cooper and Tipton came around to score on an infield error.
The Raiders got close with a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth. Will Crimmins singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Colton Jumper followed with an infield single and Tanner Hulse walked. Taylor Maxey stroked a two-out single just inside the first-base line, and Cooper's RBI single to left got them within a run.
Davis Culpepper gave the Red Raiders two shutout innings in the fifth and sixth and Baylor had its chances in the seventh. Brandon Robertson and Zach McKelvey got back-to-back singles, but Crimmins' bunt was picked up in time for the pitcher to get the lead runner at third. Reliever Conroy Miler then got a called third strike and a short-to-first grounder to end the game.
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 ...