Tullahoma ousts Siegel baseball again

Tullahoma ousts Siegel baseball again

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Tullahoma ousts Siegel baseball again

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TULLAHOMA

The Siegel baseball team’s season suffered a very familiar result at Grider Stadium on Monday night.

For the fourth time in five years and for the fifth time since 2005, the Tullahoma Wildcats ended the Stars’ year with a victory in the Region 4-AAA semifinals.

Vanderbilt signee and MLB prospect Justus Sheffield improved to 10-0 on the season in guiding Tullahoma to a 3-1 win from the mound.

“This is a tough one to swallow,” Siegel senior Johnny Rodgers said. “We really thought we were going to win this one.

“It’s tough facing Justus. We knew we had to get after him today. We did that a little bit, but we just came up a little bit short.”

Siegel has been to the region semifinals five times in school history. The Wildcats have defeated the Stars every time, four of which were by two runs or less.

“I’m proud of them,” said Siegel coach Craig Reavis, who played for Tullahoma in the 1990s. “We battled Sheffield as hard as we could.

“We had some chances, we just couldn’t get anything going when we had some runners in scoring position. We never got that big hit.”

Sheffield scattered three hits, finished with 12 strikeouts – bringing his 2014 total to 130 in 61 innings – and allowed no earned runs in the complete-game victory.

Collin Stoecker, a Notre Dame commitment, took the loss for Siegel. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout and one walk.

Both teams squandered scoring chances in the first four innings, including a bases-loaded opportunity for Tullahoma in the bottom of the third.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning that both teams were able to manufacture some runs.

Siegel’s Peyton Nolan scored the game’s first run on a passed ball in the top of the fifth for a 1-0 Stars’ advantage.

Tullahoma answered with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, including what turned out to be the game-winner.

The Wildcats’ Brandon Johnson and Casson Buckner scored on consecutive – and perfectly-executed – squeeze plays by Scott Jones and Tanner Hill, which yielded a 2-1 Tullahoma lead that was enough for Sheffield to preserve the comeback victory.

“I’ve been in too many of these games,” Tullahoma coach Brad White said. “This is the fifth year in a row we’ve been in this situation — 2-0, 2-1, 3-2, I knew it was going to be low scoring.

“We came in last night, had a practice and worked on (squeeze plays) over and over and over and over. I was just going to stick to my plan, which was if we fired enough bullets at them right there, we’d be able to get one of them down.”

Tullahoma added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to provide the final margin.

Stoecker got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third inning with a groundout to shortstop. In total, the Wildcats stranded seven runners to the Stars’ four.

Both teams also threatened in the first inning.

Siegel’s Blake Benefield hit a double to right field after Sheffield got the game’s first out on a strikeout. Benefield moved to third on a wild pitch but was tagged out at the plate one batter later on Nick Kristinus’ fielder’s choice to second base.

The Wildcats had runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom half of the first but couldn’t plate a run in the opening frame either. Stoecker got out the jam with a groundout to second base.

Tullahoma 3, Siegel 1

Siegel – 000 010 0 – 1 3 1

Tullahoma – 000 021 x – 3 8 1

Collin Stoecker, Carson Lester (6) and Johnny Rodgers. Justus Sheffield and Grayson Grow. WP: Sheffield (10-0). LP: Stoecker.

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