Early season high school baseball, with its chilly weather, pitchers on short reins and coaches still evaluating players, can produce some odd and curious games.
That was the case Wednesday night as Tates Creek outlasted Bryan Station 20-8 in a three-hour marathon.
Tates Creek was on the verge of mercy-ruling the Defenders after erupting for six runs in the fifth inning and another in the sixth to lead 10-1.
But Bryan Station, under first-year coach Eddie Brooks, didn't roll over.
The Defenders took advantage of shaky relief pitching by Tates Creek to push across seven runs in the bottom of the sixth, and left the tying run at second before the Commodores got out of the jam.
Tates Creek, perhaps jolted into action by Bryan Station's comeback, scored 10 runs in the seventh to finally bury Bryan Station for good.
Commodores' senior catcher Lee Kimbrell admitted that "things got a little tight when it was 10-8, but I never really was concerned. I kept faith in my team, and I knew we'd come back with the bats."
Tates Creek, rated sixth in the state in the pre-season, had 14 hits, including a three-run triple by Tanner Baldwin in the seventh. Zyler Cosby also drove in three runs. Phillip Donovan had two hits and two RBI, before suffering what was believed to be a broken finger on his non-throwing hand while diving back to first base.
Sophomore Ryan Fucci started on the mound and gave up only one hit and one run in four innings.
Donovan came on in relief and blanked Bryan Station in the fifth. But the two pitchers who followed him had trouble finding the plate. Nelson Cowan and Devin Jackson combined to give up five walks, a hit batsman and two hits to help fuel the Defenders' rally.
"Sometimes guys come in and you don't know if they're mentally prepared to throw strikes," Tates Creek Coach Dom Fucci said. "This was a learning experience for them.
"But our guys responded well and put up that 10-spot in the seventh to put it away."
Bryan Station senior ace Brandon Boling had a tough night against the Commodores, surrendering eight runs on eight hits and three walks. But the Defenders made their coach proud by digging themselves out of a deep hole. Aaron Helton's two-run single, and Brady Boling's RBI hit highlighted the comeback.
"We got down big early, but the kids didn't fold," Brooks said. "They battled back to within two runs and made it a game. They competed for seven innings and did a lot of things well. They played hard and they hustled."
Tates C reek 021 061 (10)—20 14 1
Bryan Station 010 007 0 —8 3 3
Ryan Fucci, Phillip Donovan (5), Nelson Cowan (6), Devin Jackson (6), Donovan (6), Gott (7) and Lee Kimbrell. Brandon Boling, Ryan Combs (5), Yuron Washington (7) and Brady Boling. 2B-- Donovan (TC), Kimbrell (TC). 3B--Tanner Baldwin (TC).
Records—Tates Creek 7-1, Bryan Station 2-3.