LEBANON, Tenn. -- Gene Etter stopped short of calling this year's Baylor team overachieving, although the Red Raiders had to fight through some injuries and deal with external doubts.
They fell short of their goal, which is the same every year, when they dropped two games Wednesday, 9-5 to Battle Ground Academy and 6-2 to one of the favorites, Memphis University School.
They wound up getting here, though, and sent Christian Brothers, another of the favorites, to the losers-bracket and wound up finishing a notch better (third) than the defending champions.
"I wish we had done a little better after that first game," Etter said. "I felt good about our chances tonight, at least early when we got ahead 2-1. I had big hopes, but that isn't the way it worked out."
As he looked back on the 22-13 season, he agreed there were some that thought this might be a down year, at least by Baylor standards.
"People didn't figure us for contenders but our pitching turned out to be better than I thought it would be and this was a good group that kept getting better. They have been a good group that worked hard."
They lost first baseman Zach McKelvey, who was hitting .400, to a broken ankle early in the season. This Blaine Booker, who started the season at second base, was lost to a back injury and then pitcher/right-fielder Brandon Robertson missed some time with an elbow injury.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to get this far," senior pitcher and first baseman John Tipton said. "We lost some players, yeah, but we got closer -- like family --and we grew as a team. I can't be prouder of the guys. They rose to the challenge and overcame a lot of doubts. This is a special group of guys."
The Red Raiders made a run at the tournament championship in the winners-bracket final with BGA, getting up 3-0 on RBIs from Brandon Robertson and Colton Jumper and an unearned run. However, BGA tied the score on a three-run homer by Ross Grosvenor in the fourth and took a 6-3 lead in the fifth on on a two-run double by Nick Egli and a run-scoring single from C.J. Beathard. They put the game virtually out of reach in the top of the seventh on a three-run homer by Cam Hoge.
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 ...