Wildcats are county champs

The Hayden Wildcats are 2021 Blount County Baseball Tournament champions. -Jeff Sargent

The Hayden Wildcats are 2021 Blount County Baseball Tournament champions. -Jeff Sargent

Hayden’s road to the championship started Monday, March 8. With a first-round bye, the Wildcats opened tournament play in the semifinals against Locust Fork. The Wildcats got on the board in the second and kept scoring from there. Officials called the game after five innings with the Wildcats up 11-1.

Singles from Cole Loftis and Eli Williams got things moving for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second. A two-out ground ball to center off the bat of Kyler Leamon scored Loftis and Williams. Hayden added a couple more in the third. Payton Jackson’s single to second sent Carson Simmons and Loftis home. In the fourth, Williams double on a fly ball to left field cleared the bases scoring Ben Oden, Braden Hodges, and Caden Mason. In the bottom of the fifth, Sammy Collins, Leamon, Carson Snow, and Mason scored.

The Hornets scattered five hits across five innings. Tommaso Franceschelli, Lukas Huber, Dawson Dunn, Landon Keith, and Ben Oden each got one hit. Tucker Massey started on the mound for the Hornets. He pitched three innings surrendering four runs on eight hits. J.M. Whitehead pitched one inning giving up three runs on two hits. The final four runs went to Dylan Taylor who pitched two-thirds of an inning.

Hayden finished the game with 11 hits and 11 runs. Snow was 3-for-4 on the night while Loftis and Williams had two hits in their three at bats. Williams led the team with four RBIs. Snow got the win pitching five innings. He allowed only one run and held the Hornets to five hits. He struck out 10 and walked none.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Wildcats and the Mustangs met for the title of Blount County Champions. The game remained scoreless through the first two innings, but Hayden’s bats got going in the third. Hodges grounded into a fielder’s choice to get Snow home. Mason’s sacrifice fly to center scored Hodges. Loftis topped the inning off with a triple sending Simmons home. Williams singled on a line drive to left field to score Loftis.

Southeastern scored a couple in the top of the fourth. Kevin Juhola’s grounder sent A. Cardenas home and D. Dobbins scored on a grounder off the bat of Trent Carpenter. The Wildcats took advantage of several miscues in the bottom of the fifth allowing Simmons to score. The Mustangs added one more run in the top of the sixth when Juhola scored.

Hayden, however, was just getting started. Snow led off the bottom half of the inning with shot to left field. Hodges was up next and he doubled on a line drive to center field sending Snow home. Mason doubled to bring Hodges home and Simmons doubled to get Mason home. After Loftis drew a walk, Williams singled on a line drive to center scoring Simmons. A sacrifice fly from Peyton Jackson scored Loftis. With bases loaded, Snow was hit by a pitch. He took first and Williams crossed home plate. Hodges ended the game with a double on a line drive to right field that scored Mullaney and Leamon.

With a 13-3 win, the Hayden Wildcats are the 2021 Blount County Champions.

Collins got the win pitching six innings allowing three runs on five hits. Hodges was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Snow and Williams were 2-for-3.

Snow was named tournament MVP. Teammates Williams, Mason, Hodges, and Collins joined Snow on the 2021 Blount County Baseball All-Tournament Team. Ashton Cardenas, Trent Carpenter, and Brody Dobbins were selected from Southeastern. Appalachian’s Bryson Seawright and Chase Payne made the team as did Locust Fork’s Lukas Huber and Gavin Payne. Kevin Thomas (Susan Moore), Jacob Johnson (Cleveland), and Presley Williams (J.B. Pennington) were also selected.