published Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

'Consistent' Seahawks start state play

Silverdale Baptist players congratulate pitcher Reid Clements (6) after winning their game against Trousdale County Friday at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Silverdale Baptist players congratulate pitcher Reid Clements (6) after winning their game against Trousdale County Friday at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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    Silverdale Baptist pitcher Spencer Mossburg steps up to the plate during their district 5-A championship baseball game against Boyd-Buchanan Thursday at Boyd-Buchanan High School in Chattanooga, Tenn.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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There was neither glitz nor glamor to the Silverdale Baptist Academy baseball team in mid-March, and there still isn't two months later.

On the eve of the Seahawks' inaugural state tournament baseball game, coach Jonathan Adcock contended that nothing had changed despite this team becoming the school's first to win boys' district, regional and sectional championship bling.

"We're not really flashy," Adcock said Monday afternoon. "We have a few guys that can hit home runs, but [the offense] is mostly singles and line drives. Of course, we have good pitching and the defense. I guess a lot [of the team's success] is the little things we do well -- and so few errors. That's been huge."

SBA opens against Rockwood (25-7) at 5 p.m. EDT today at Middle Tennessee Christian. The Seahawks are 26-2-1 with 25 wins in their last 26 games. They've had 11 shutout wins and 20 games in which they gave up two or fewer runs.

"We played a very competitive schedule including a number of triple-A teams, and I think those [Silverdale] guys could play with anybody that was on our schedule," East Hamilton coach Steve Garland said.

Among teams the Hurricanes encountered this season are Cookeville, which entered the postseason with one loss; Tullahoma, which was ranked nationally most of the season; state participants Murfreesboro Central Magnet and Upperman and district champions Sequoyah and Ooltewah.

"I think Silverdale will be a very competitive team in the Class A tournament, and I think they could have been very competitive in the Class AA tournament," Garland said.

Coaches from three of the Seahawks' last four opponents were asked for informal scouting reports, and they seemed to bear him out.

"We faced them three times this year and they are consistent," Marion County's J.J. Gatlin said. "I was told that they were, and I concur. [They] probably [are] as consistent of a hitting, fielding and pitching team that I've seen in 17 years of high school baseball."

The Seahawks can go at least six deep in their rotation, but the primary pitchers are Reid Clements and Spencer Mossburg. They have combined for 15 of SBA's wins and carry ERAs of 1.037 (Clements) and 0.92 (Mossburg).

"They both throw in the mid-80s with good off-speed. They are legit No. 1 pitchers," said Josh Rider, whose Boyd-Buchanan team shared the regular season District 5-A title with the Seahawks. "Their numbers three through five pitchers are all solid too."

Based on innings pitched, first baseman Colton Rogers is the No. 3 with 30 1/3 innings. He has a 6-1 record with three complete games and two shutouts. Outfielder Matt Millard and shortstop Joey Szollosi each has pitched 23 innings, Millard with a 1.52 ERA and Szollosi at 2.43.

"They have at least four solid pitchers, and they very rarely beat themselves with errors," South Pittsburg coach Wes Stone assessed.

But the Seahawks also have the bats.

"You have a guy like Rogers, who hit a walk-off home run against us, batting eighth. That ought to tell you something about their batting order," Garland said.

Rogers is tied with Mossburg and Szollosi for the team lead with seven homers.

"Their lineup is very tough one through nine -- no easy outs. They don't strike out much," Rider assessed. "Mossburg is the catalyst for everything. If he's on base, you're in trouble."

Mossburg, who bats leadoff, leads the team in stolen bases (13-of-14), batting average (.593), hits (48), total bases (82) and slugging percentage (1.012) and has struck out just five times in 94 plate appearances.

However, the team batting average is an amazing .336, the Seahawks have stolen 57 bases in 62 attempts and their average margin of victory is about eight runs.

"It's more than the seniors, but we depend heavily on them," Adcock said of Clements, Mossburg, Szollosi, catcher Josh Bankston and outfielder Joe Blair. "Most were starting when they were freshmen. They've been through a lot of tough times, and we have grown together."

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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