Trevin Ayers earned a new nickname this week.
Just call the Riverdale senior shortstop Mr. May.
Ayers’ single drove in pinch runner Jordan McNeal from third in the bottom of the seventh to give Riverdale a 2-1 win over Ooltewah on Saturday night in a Class AAA baseball sectional. The win advanced Riverdale to its second consecutive TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling.
Riverdale reached the Final Four last season. Riverdale will play at either Oakland High or Siegel High in the Class AAA state tournament beginning Tuesday.
Ayers’ game-winning RBI was the second this week. He hit the game winner against Columbia in a 2-1, eight-inning victory on Monday in the Region 4-AAA semifinals.
“I told our coaches, ‘Whoever put Ayers in the leadoff is a genius,'” Riverdale coach Barry Messer said. “I don’t even know who did it, or when we did it.”
Ayers’ one-out single came with the bases loaded.
Brad Woodson, the Warriors’ No. 7 hitter, hit a one-out double to start the rally. Woodson stumbled as he was rounding first base, but managed to get up and get to second.
He was replaced by McNeal afterward. Teammate Clint McCullough followed with an infield hit. McCullough appeared to be called out momentarily, before ruled safe.
“I thought we had an out there (at first),” Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox said. “From there, they had their No. 9 hitter up, so there is no double-play situation.
“We walked the nine hole. I thought that was the only hitter in that sequence that we would want back. If we get him out, it’s runners on first and third and you can be a little more careful with Ayers.”
D.J. Watkins then walked to load the bases for Ayers, who stroked reliever Zach Thompson’s pitch for a single and the game-winning hit.
“We’ve been fighting these games all year long,” Ayers said. “We just keep finding ways to win. I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be going to state again.
“It’s the bottom of the order’s doing getting me there. I’m just trying to do my job for the team.”
Riverdale took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning off starter Jackson McClain. Watkins singled and stole second. Ayers advanced him to third with a ground out before Caleb Swayze scored him on an infield hit that squirted past McClain on the right side of the field.
But Ooltewah tied it during its next at-bat. Middle Tennessee State University signee Kevin Dupree singled off starter Collin Snider to start a string of three consecutive singles. The last one, a Chase Morissey hit, scored pinch runner Bryson Owen.
Memphis signee Trevor Sutton pitched the top of the seventh to collect the win and improve to 9-1 this season in relief of Snider.
“I was good to go four, maybe five innings if needed,” Sutton said. “I knew Collin was going to do his thing. To only have to throw one inning is great.”
Riverdale 2, Ooltewah 1
Ooltewah 000 100 0 — 1 5 0
Riverdale 001 000 1 — 2 7 2
McClain, Z. Thompson (7) and Binder. Snider, Sutton (7) and Walters. WP: Sutton (9-1). LP: Thompson.