By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Every postseason journey has a starting point.
For the Millington Trojan Baseball team, last Thursday at USA Stadium in Millington, a thriller against the Cordova Wolves was the beginning of the District 14-3A Tournament.
“We had some key situations with bases loaded,” Millington Head Coach Zane Adams said. “It would have been a good time for a key hit. But we kept leaving guys stranded
“We got some guys on in the bottom of the seventh and got things tied up,” he continued. “We got a guy on second with two outs. Lucas Van Emelen hit a little ball to shortstop and beat it out. I sent the guy from second and scored the winning run.”
The Trojans 7-6 come-from-behind victory Cordova set up a Friday afternoon date with the No. 1 seeded Bartlett Panthers. The 4 p.m. start time marked the beginning of the playoffs for Head Coach Josh Stewart’s squad.
“They usually have a few butterflies pregame,” he noted. “But once you get out there and start throwing the ball around, they’ve been doing this for a long time. All those nerves pretty much go away. It’s tournament time and everybody is excited. Everybody has worked hard to get here. It’s time to perform.”
Bartlett performed well in it’s district tournament opener with a 12-2 win over the Trojans in six innings.
Panther senior Jeffrey Kohl took to the USA Stadium mound with the mission to shut down Millington. The Trojans grabbed an 1-0 advantage on Kohl in the first inning.
“He did OK,” Stewart said of Kohl’s final outcome. “He struggled with the first batter but he settled in and threw strikes. He kept the ball down. You do that, good things happen.”
Good things started to happen for Bartlett in its half of the first with 5 runs. Panther first baseman Jonathan Bowlan got things started with a bases loaded single to tie the contest.
Ryan McBride gave the Panthers the lead with a two-run base hit. Moments later Jacob Nobles repeated the act of a 2-RBI single to make the score 5-1.
Panther Justin Ammons added a run to Bartlett’s lead in the third inning with a sacrifice fly. Parker Wilson and Bowlan made the score 9-1 driving in addition runs in the frame.
Behind 8 runs, the game got away from the Trojans by the third inning.
“We started out good and we were hitting it well in the first inning,” Adams said. “We came out pitching up in the zone and not hitting spots. They’re a good team. Bottom line, they swing it good. They came out hitting it today. This wasn’t our best pitching performance today. We got beat by a good club.”
The Trojans displayed some fight in the fourth inning when Van Emelen lead off the inning with a stand-up triple. Two batters later Trojan catcher Noah “Jbird” Stephens smacked a single to score Van Emelen to make the score 9-2.
Two innings later the Panthers closed out their opening round contest with Christian Busby making the score 11-2 with a double. The game-ending run came courtesy of Ammons driving in Busby with a double.
“Just staying on top of it and having a good approach at the plate is always a good way to start off,” Stewart noted. “I thought we did that throughout the day.”
The Panthers advanced in the winner’s bracket. Meanwhile the Trojans had to prepare for the Kingsbury Falcons in the loser’s bracket the next day.
“After the game today I told them, ‘Hey guys, this one is over,’” Adams concluded. “‘Let’s get ready to play tomorrow. It’s nothing we can do about it now. Let’s put it behind us.’ We’re playing for one game at time now.”