At least the decision was an easy one for Clayton Parker. The Boyd-Buchanan senior pitcher had struggled most of the game to put his curveball where he wanted it, so with the District 5-A championship on the line Tuesday, the right-hander went with old reliable.
Parker's 3-2 fastball struck out Silverdale Baptist's Josh Bankston with the tying run on third base and one out in the seventh inning, and when Parker induced Chase Turner to ground out, the Buccaneers celebrated the 2-1 victory and 5-A title that went with it.
"I was spotting my fastball all game, so it was fastball all the way there," said Parker, who improved to 5-2 for the Bucs (23-8), who will host District 6-A runner-up Whitwell next Monday in an elimination region game. "It was a little nerve-racking out there, and I had to focus on every pitch and every hitter."
Silverdale's Spencer Mossburg limited the Bucs to three hits and struck out 10. In the fourth inning, however, Mossburg had control issues and it cost him a 1-0 lead. A walk, a hit batter and Austin Bailey's bloop single to center tied the game, and after another walk that loaded the bases, Colter Parker's fielder's choice plated what would be the winning run.
"It was just a great ballgame," Boyd-Buchanan pitching coach Clay Parker said. "Spencer Mossburg is one of the best pitchers in the area, and fortunately Clayton was able to hold them to one run. Spencer pitched a masterful game today, but Clayton was one run better. We scored a couple when we had to, and I felt that was the way the game was going to have to be won."
Clayton Parker worked through several rough spots early, including stranding runners at second and third in the first inning. Silverdale's Garrett Howard touched him for a home run in the fourth, but after his team gave him the 2-1 lead in the bottom half, Parker retired the next seven batters before the seventh-inning drama arose.
He struck out Colton Rogers with one out, but the pitch was in the dirt and went to the backstop, allowing Rogers to reach base. Pinch-runner Cody Thomas then took second on a passed ball and went to third when the throw back from his catcher eluded Parker and went into center field. Parker, though, after running the count full against Bankston, got the big strikeout when he needed it.
For the Seahawks (18-11), who will play Monday at South Pittsburg, the close loss did not get them down.
"That was as solid as both teams could play, and I'm so proud of Spencer and the rest of these guys," Silverdale coach Jonathan Adcock said. "It's a great honor for us because it's only the second time we've gotten this far, so we're feeling good right now."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...