|Best laid UC plans ruined
|Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 6:15 pm
PARSONS — Union City head coach Jeremy Maddox insisted much went according to plan despite his team’s 8-2 defeat to Riverside in a Class A sectional game on Saturday.
Union City’s Rance Barnes reacts to a safe call on Saturday.
As a matter of fact, Maddox claimed the more than a half-dozen wild pitches and 10 walks — although both numbers were certainly more than he expected — were a by-product of the Twisters’ game plan to stymie the offense of the Panthers, who finished as state runner-up last season.
“We knew that’d we’d probably throw a few wild pitches and issue some walks going in,” Maddox said. “When you’re drawing up a plan for a team that hits the ball as well as they do, sometimes you have to go after them in a way that goes against baseball logic. We threw a lot of off-speed stuff in fastball counts to try to keep them at bay.
“Give them (Riverside) credit, though, for making the right adjustments and taking advantage of what we gave them.”
What Maddox was referring to in the latter part of that statement were the three runs that scored due to a wild pitch or passed ball and the one tally that was the result of an error.
That said, Maddox believed his pitchers (starter Rance Barnes and reliever Drake Parker) got the job that was asked of them done, allowing just six hits.
“They pitched well enough to win with the plan we had,” Maddox said. “If we made a couple of plays here and there and stopped a few pitches from getting to the backstop, then it could’ve been a totally different ball game.”
The start of Saturday’s sectional game, the first such contest for UC since 2003, was a sharp contrast from the way it ended.
Tornado leadoff man Drake Parker roped a home run over the right field fence to give the locals a 1-0 lead and quiet the large Riverside cheering section at Panther Field.
Then, the bottom of the order got Union City (21-17) another run in the top of the second. Barnes, hitting in the 7 spot, singled to begin the frame and his courtesy runner (Alex O’Neill) moved to second when Caleb Long executed a textbook sacrifice bunt.
The Twisters’ No. 9 hitter Tyler Steward then came through in the clutch with a double down the left field line to plate O’Neill and put the Obion Countians up 2-0.
Riverside (30-5) got its first run in the home half of the second inning.
Having already averted one scoring threat in the frame when UC third baseman Zack Cavness threw out a hard-charging Aaron Keen at the plate, winning pitcher Stephen Gant assisted his own cause with a single to plate Jase Taylor.
In the bottom of the third, the Panthers tied the when Bryce White, who had reached base and gotten to second when Cavness’ errant throw on what could have been a groundout bounced over the fence and moved to third on a wild pitch, scored on a ball in the dirt that got to the backstop with two outs.
One pitch later, Blake Grace popped out to first baseman Will Arnold to retire the side.
From there, Riverside gained the lead in the fourth as Taylor (who walked) and Keen (who singled) scored on a sacrifice fly and wild pitch, respectively.
Additionally, the Panthers, who next play on Tuesday in the TSSAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro, added to their cushion with one tally in the fifth and a Ryne Fisher three-run bomb over the center field fence in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Union City could hardly get a hit after the second inning. Only Cavness (a blooper to lead off the third) and Parker (a one-out single in the seventh) had safeties from that point on.
Gant, the Riverside ace who hadn’t pitched since the regional semifinals, claimed the mound victory, striking out 14 and walking just one in the process.
On the flip side, Barnes, who also last toed the rubber in the region semis, absorbed the defeat.
The game was the final in a Twister baseball jersey for Arnold, Cavness, Barnes and Stevie Gossett, who left the game with two outs remaining in the seventh inning after he was hit in the hand by a pitch.
Gossett is reportedly set to undergo surgery for the injury on Tuesday.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.