Boone squeaked past the Chiefs 3-2 in an elimination game of the District 1-AAA baseball tournament Friday night at Mabe Field.
“It was a very tough performance by our team,” said Trailblazers coach Rob Hoover. “I give Coach (Matthew) Carter and the guys from Cherokee all the credit in the world for playing the game hard. It was a classic first-round, single-elimination tournament game. We are very pleased to move on.”
Boone (18-10) advanced to the double-elimination portion of the tourney and plays Science Hill (22-11) on Saturday at Tennessee High’s field in Bristol.
Cherokee came out ready to rock. Trent Price battled Boone ace pitcher Cade Elliot for a leadoff walk. Price moved to second when Carter Morelock fought off a pitch for an opposite-field single.
That brought Cherokee’s best, Nick Collins, to the plate. Collins stroked a line drive to right-center field that had two runs written all over it. Unfortunately for Cherokee, Backus turned the runs into disappearing ink with a diving grab.
“It was a huge momentum play,” Hoover said. “It very easily could have gotten past him to the fence. Colby Backus has played great defensively all year.”
Elliot followed it up by getting a strikeout and coaxing a flyout to end the threat.
Cherokee scratched across a pair of runs in the third inning, thanks in part to singles by Price and Japheth Curtsinger.
Boone answered in the bottom half when Brody Goodman scored on a wild pitch and Backus raced home on an error.
The Trailblazers got the winning run on Hunter Adams’ suicide-squeeze bunt in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Trailing 3-2, Cherokee got a one-out single from Price.
Elliot had thrown 108 pitches and Hoover gave the ball to Goodman.
Morelock followed with a line drive to second baseman Anthony Edwards, who turned it into a game-ending double play.
Price and Morelock each had two hits for the Chiefs. Collins was the tough-luck loser on the mound, allowing four hits and four walks with nine strikeouts and just one earned run.
Backus and Logan Rivers had two hits apiece for Boone.