Josh Rider never saw it coming. He had his back turned to most of Boyd-Buchanan's players as he compared postgame notes with assistant coach Ken Anderson.
He got soaked and was so shocked he ran 40 feet or so before the chill of the icy water-cooler shower subsided. He was still breathless when he turned and sputtered, "I never saw it coming."
Neither did Jackson County's Blue Devils, who were swarmed over by the Buccaneers, 12-2 in five innings, in a ticket-punching game for the Tennessee Class A state baseball tournament next week in Murfreesboro.
"We started off really slow, and you can attribute that to what they were doing," Rider said. "They're a little bit different than what we've seen lately and a pitcher not throwing quite as hard as what we've seen lately. And we were playing our second game in less than 24 hours, and I think that game took a little out of us. But then we got locked in there in the third or fourth inning."
The Bucs scored what turned out to be enough runs in the first inning to win, but after an unspoken battle between pitcher Skyler Anderson and the home plate umpire, they erupted -- and Anderson, who hit a batter and walked in two runs in the third -- turned it up a notch.
The junior allowed only two hits.
"Skyler struggled some, but he came back in the fourth and fifth and mowed them down," said Rider, who was chided more than once by the ump calling the balls and strikes.
"I thought I had a couple of pitches and, yeah, my adrenaline went up," Anderson said. "I didn't have my best stuff, but I have a great defense behind me and they picked me up when I needed it."
In that third inning he threw 22 pitches and gave up RBI walks to Dalton Walden and Colby Brown.
After that, though he was still churning inside, Anderson set out to show what he could do when challenged. He struck out three of the last six batters he faced, and no ball got out of the infield.
Part of the reason was back-to-back defensive gems from shortstop Cade Evans. He ranged to his right, backhanded a ball bound for left field and rocketed a throw off his back foot to get the Blue Devils' speedy leadoff man. On the very next play the freshman went left and snagged a line drive that seemed destined to get through up the middle.
"The first one, I charged and heard someone say throw it, so I did. The second one I saw off the bat, got a good jump and snagged it," he said.
"That's routine for him," Anderson said. "The home run is out of character, but defensively that's him."
Oh, yeah, the homer.
Evans drilled one high and deep to left-center with two runners aboard in the game-ending fifth inning.
"I had never hit one in my life, not even in little league or rec ball, and the wind might've helped a little bit," he admitted.
"That was the nail in the coffin," said Rider, who had numerous offensive standouts.
Evans was 3-4 with three RBIs, but Hunter Payne went 2-for-3 with an RBI and E.J. Matthews got three RBIs on a single and a sacrifice fly. Others with two-hit days were Jim Cardwell and Colby Morgan.
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 ...