HENDERSONVILLE Hendersonville High sophomore Brett Coker didn’t play for the Commando baseball team last season.
In fact, he didn’t attend a game.
Station Camp may wish that would have been the case on Tuesday evening.
Coker walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Hendersonville a 3-2 victory over the visiting Bison at Drakes Creek Park.
Coker transferred from Mosley High School, which is located in Panama City, Fla. His first day at Hendersonville High was May 18, 2015.
“I like the competitiveness here,” Coker said.
He served as the starting quarterback for the school’s football program last fall and played for the Hendersonville High boys basketball team as well.
On Tuesday, he was at the plate with the game on the line twice.
Trailing the Bison (4-3 overall, 1-1 in District 9-AAA) by a run, senior Andrew Larson singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning, moved into scoring position on sophomore Austin Mays’ sacrifice bunt and advanced to third base when senior Aris Welden grounded out. Coker hit the first pitch he saw, resulting in a slow roller down the third-base line that Bison senior third baseman Brad Deason wasn’t able to cleanly field. That allowed pinch runner A.J. Hart to score the tying run.
Station Camp junior starting pitcher Thomas Zazzaro – who joined the team last weekend after the Bison boys basketball team was eliminated from the Class AAA State Tournament with last Friday’s semifinal loss to Cordova – limited the Commandos to one run on seven hits over his six innings of work, striking out six hitters while not issuing a base on balls.
“The ability to pitch backward tonight got him to where he was,” Bison head coach Korey Heppeard said. “It got him in the position we were in. He’s going to be low (pitch) count guy, because he attacks the (strike) zone so well.”
Zazzaro left after throwing 82 pitches.
“It’s the toughest decision in baseball,” Heppeard said of bringing senior A.J. Weed on in relief of Zazzaro. “I thought it was still too early (in the season) to keep rolling.”
Hendersonville senior Will Wacaser matched Zazzaro, limiting Station Camp to four hits over his seven innings. The Austin Peay State University signee issued two base on balls and struck out nine hitters.
The Bison didn’t have a hit over the final four innings.
Commando freshman Cameron Hansen retired six of the seven hitters he faced, not allowing a hit while striking out three hitters to improve to 2-0.
“Wacaser throws it well,” Heppeard said. “We didn’t stick with our approach (offensively). It happens.
“It was two great pitchers on the mound. It should be a low-scoring game, and it was.”
Larson led off the ninth by drawing a walk, and Mays successfully laid down another sacrifice bunt.
With two outs, Coker hit a line drive as Station Camp junior centerfielder Tyler Thompson initially ran toward the infield. However, Thompson redirected back, but the ball sailed over his head and fell in the outfield grass for the game-winning hit.
“Going into my last at-bat, I didn’t feel any pressure,” Coker said. “I hit a fastball right down the middle. I was looking for that. He (Weed) didn’t look like he was throwing many curveballs. I was looking fastball, sat back on it and drove it.”
Bison junior catcher Dylan Pottorff doubled with two outs in the first inning to drive in Thompson, and Weed’s two-out single to leftfield drove in Thompson in the third inning.
Hendersonville (6-1, 1-1) didn’t score until senior catcher Cooper Brenning singled through the left side of the infield with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, driving in Mays.
“We just need to start swinging at fastballs,” Coker said. “Letting fastballs go right down the middle doesn’t help, putting you deep in the count.
“We tried to stay positive, everyone keeping their head up. Don’t freak out. Keep your head up and keep moving.”
Senior Brandon Fuller had three of the 10 Commando hits.
“Our old guys (upperclassmen) have never played,” Hendersonville head coach Mike Hendrix said. “We bring back a catcher as the only returning position player.
“This is great, especially after going over to Wilson Central and laying an egg (suffering a 10-4 loss last Wednesday). We needed to swing the bat better.”
Reach Craig Harris at email@example.com or at 615-575-7138. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.
Station Camp 101 000 000 – 2 4 1
Hendersonville 000 010 101 – 3 10 1
Thomas Zazzaro, A.J. Weed (7) and Dylan Pottorff; Will Wacaser, Cameron Hansen (8) and Cooper Brenning. WP – Hansen (2-0). LP – Weed (1-1). Records: Station Camp 4-3 overall, 1-1 in District 9-AAA; Hendersonville 6-1, 1-1.