PARIS – James Rockwell hurled the Gallatin High School baseball team into a position it hasn’t been in a long while. In fact, Rockwell wasn’t born the last time that Green Wave advanced this far into the postseason.
Rockwell pitched a three-hit shutout during Monday evening’s 3-0 victory at Henry County in a Region 5-AAA Tournament semifinal contest.
Rockwell (5-3) suffered a strained hamstring late in the team’s 7-6 win over Wilson Central seven days earlier and didn’t play against Mt. Juliet in the District 9-AAA Tournament championship game one day following the injury.
“I was in (Gallatin High certified athletic trainer) Andy Yarbrough’s office every day,” Rockwell said. “It happened to feel better the last two days.
“It stayed loose. I had no problem with it.”
The senior right-hander didn’t allow an extra-base hit, issued one base on balls and struck out 12 hitters.
“When we needed him to hit his spots, he hit his spots,” Green Wave junior catcher Bailey Russell said. “He located his breaking ball better than he has all year.”
Gallatin head coach Mark Wilson added, “He gave up three or four hits to a team that came in ripping the cover off of the ball.”
The Green Wave (20-10) advanced to play Rossview – a 3-0 winner at Mt. Juliet on Monday – in Wednesday’s Region 5-AAA championship game and also earned a spot in one of eight Class AAA sectional games on Friday. Sectional winners advance to the state tournament.
Gallatin last played in a region final in 1995 and hasn’t played in a sectional/substate game since 1989.
“It’s crazy,” Rockwell said. “We’re not supposed to be here, but we’re here. We’re hot. We need to keep it going.”
Wave senior Carlos Hernandez singled in junior Jordan Mason in the first inning, and Russell’s two-out single in the fifth inning drove in Mason and junior Nathan Kernell.
“They intentionally walked Carlos, which loaded the bases,” Russell said. “My first at-bat, I struck out. My second at-bat, I walked. All I was thinking was (about hitting) a line drive to the outfield. I did my job (hitting a first-pitch fastball into left-centerfield).”
Junior Andy Denning had two of Gallatin’s seven hits off of Patriot junior pitcher Hunter Updyke, who struck out 11 hitters in a complete-game effort.
“We’ve talked about things,” Wilson – whose squad has won 10 of its last 11 games – said. “We’ve had goals, but to see it come to fruition, it’s a testament to these guys.”
Reach Craig Harris at email@example.com or at 615-575-7138. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.
Gallatin 100 020 0 – 3 7 0
Henry County 000 000 0 – 0 4 1
James Rockwell and Bailey Russell; Hunter Updyke and Parker Piskos. WP – Rockwell (5-3). LP – Updyke. Records: Gallatin 20-10.