By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels were flying high after a solid showing in the 2016 Eagle Classic.
Brad Smith’s Rebels traveled to the tournament April 7-9 and took second place among some of the best baseball teams in the nation. Trying to ride that high in the following week, TRA experienced a setback 7-5 to the Bolton Wildcats on Rebel Field Friday night.
“We played well,” Smith noted of the Eagle Classic. “We went up there and competed. The pitchers did a great job of extending themselves and keeping their pitch count down. We had an opportunity to play 5 games in three days with three of them on Saturday.
“And your No. 1 pitcher didn’t even start,” he continued. “We just used him in relief. We had a lot of guys step up and give us quality innings. It was a good tournament for us to get out of town and come together to bond as a team. We got a chance to live the hotel-life for a couple of days. We compete and I was really pumped about how we played.”
Friday night started full of energy with a total of 5 runs by both Bolton and TRA. The Wildcats jumped out 2-0 taking advantage of a pair of walks.
“You come out today, we didn’t pound the zone,” Smith noted. “And they scored two runs in the first on one hit.”
The Rebels took the lead in the bottom of the first inning starting with a Brandon Winfield RBI ground ball that made the score 2-1. Later in the frame Darien Weakley crushed a triple to drive in a pair of runners.
Bolton regained the lead in the second inning once again taking advantage of TRA miscues. The Wildcats broke the 3-3 deadlock when a bloop single dropped between three Rebels.
The Wildcats nursed their two-run advantage until TRA scored in the sixth inning to make the score 5-4. Once again it was Weakley producing an RBI scoring teammate Corey Mitson.
But in the top of the seventh inning Bolton capitalized on TRA errors to get some insurance runs.
“You look at it and we gave up 7 runs tonight and 7 of them were unearned,” Smith noted. “You’re not going to win very many ball games like that.”
Despite TRA scoring a run in the seventh inning, the outcome went in the favor of the Wildcats giving Bolton starter Larkey Dotson the victory.
“The tone of any ball game is set on the mound,” Smith said. “They had tons of confidence because the Dotson kid is a very good pitcher. You could just tell in the confidence of their players tonight. You can tell the confidence their whole team has when he’s on the mound.
“If you go out as a pitcher and pound the zone, everybody behind you will be on their toes behind you because there’s action all the time,” he concluded.