On almost any other occasion, Red Bank High School baseball coach Trey Hicks might have come close to blowing a gasket.
It is the postseason, however, and his Lions were facing season-ending elimination in the District 6-AA tournament Friday.
Finally leaving the ho-hum in the dugout, they rallied with a four-run fifth inning and held on for a 5-2 victory over East Ridge.
So instead of berating the players, the Lions' coach told them to think of their teammates, go home and get some supper and some rest. Having acquired a spot in the tournament's double-elimination segment, they'll face regular-season winner and tournament host Central at 1 this afternoon.
In the second game, scheduled to start at 3:30, Tyner will face Hixson, which was the league's No. 2 team on run differential in a tiebreaker with Central.
After sending his team toward the parking lot, Hicks pulled off his cap, sleeved the sweat from his brow and sighed.
"There really is no such thing as an ugly win in the postseason, and especially when you're in a single-game elimination situation," he said with a shrug and a sigh.
Down 2-1 through four innings, Red Bank finally got some offense going. D.J. Hale singled and stole second and Hunter Romans walked before Johnny Goodman's RBI single, Chapin Price's sacrifice fly, Ben Brown's RBI double and a squib single to right from Alex Chambers.
"We hit the ball pretty well for the most part, and then we strung some hits together there in the fifth, but [East Ridge] still had a chance in the seventh with two guys on and the winning run coming to the plate," Hicks said.
Romans, in relief of winning pitcher Lawrence Woodfin, slammed the door.
"Woodfin came in and stopped the bleeding early," Hicks said, "and then Romans, who's pitched relief in some big games, came in and closed it out."
The Pioneers surprised Red Bank by drawing first blood.
Cody Thomas, the leadoff man, singled to open the game, advanced to third on walks to Jesse Jones and Avery Broatzman and scored on Juan Forte's single to right field.
Red Bank countered with a run in the bottom half of the first, Hale scoring on Blake Winstead's sacrifice fly.
However, East Ridge regained the league in the third. Jones singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Broatzman's single to left.
"They fought, and hats off to them for playing really well. They had opportunities to pour it on," Hicks said.
The Pioneers left the bases loaded once and stranded two runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and seventh innings.
"I really thought we could win," said East Ridge coach Scotty Cordell, whose team played error-free defense. "This probably was the best game we've had all year. We had chances to win, but we don't score much and I was trying to generate some runs. I might have cost us a run or two."
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...