It took more almost six hours and 15 innings but Red Bank finally secured its third straight District 6-AA baseball championship.
Central's Purple Pounders, who had previously bounced top seed East Hamilton from the tournament, forced a two-game final by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh for an 11-7 victory.
Red Bank returned the favor in Game 2, falling behind, taking the lead and the exploding for 10 runs in the top of the seventh on its way to a 14-7, title-clinching victory.
"Those are the craziest two games I have been a part of," Red Bank coach Trey Hicks said. "I still have no idea what happened [in the top of the seventh]."
The Lions entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind East Hamilton and Central and on a 14-game losing streak. Now they will be home on Monday to host a Region 3 semifinal against either Polk County or Sequoyah. Central will travel Monday to face one of those two.
"That 14-game streak is forgotten," Hicks said.
Down 7-4 going into the seventh through six innings -- after a scoreless battle through the first four frames -- Red Bank batted around in the top of the seventh. Big hits were RBI singles by D.J. Hale and Hagen Wilkey and a two-run double by Hunter Romans. Every Lion batter scored in the inning and Raunel Perez scored twice.
"I really didn't know how the guys would react in the second game after the way we lost the first one and then getting down 7-4," Hicks said. "I guess I know now. We're playing at home on Monday."
Wilkey wound up getting the win in relief of freshman Blake Winstead, who pitched into the fifth and who had been locked in a scoreless duel with Central's Conner Ploss.
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 ...