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Bulldog bats scream as Bearden outlasts LCHS 10-6 in opener

It may not have been the start Bearden baseball coach Matt Buckner wanted to the season, but the Bulldogs came out with a 10-6 victory versus Lenoir City on opening day at Bearden’s Phil Garner Field Monday, March 10.

Senior Josh Hullett started the game on the mound for the Bulldogs, giving up seven hits and two earned runs in three innings of work.

“We didn’t play well at all,” Buckner said. “Josh didn’t have his best stuff and we made some bad plays.”

The Bulldogs (1-0) took a early 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first on a RBI single from senior Dawson Halliday.

“We were definitely pumped up because it is the senior season for most of us,” senior Taylor Gouffon said. “We were a little over-excited and we got off to a slow start, but once we settled down we started playing good.”

Lenoir City (0-1) tied the game 1-1 the following inning after a grounder to second was misplayed by Dylan Highsmith and a run scored from third.

Two more singles gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead.

Bearden inched closer in the bottom of the third as junior Garrett Copeland knocked in Halliday to make the score 3-2.

“We didn’t play real well, but I will take a win on the first day,” Buckner said.

Gouffon took over pitching duties for the Bulldogs in the top of the fourth and went the remaining four innings, scattering four hits and surrendering three runs to earn the win.

“Taylor did a good job,” Buckner said. “He came in and put the hammer down on them pretty good. He has a chance to have a big year for us, so it’s a good start for him.”

Gouffon walked the first batter he faced, and then gave up a dink single to give Lenoir City runners on first and second with no outs.

Junior Steven Lovelace doubled home both runs and ended up on third base after the throw home. Lovelace scored on a sacrifice grounder to second to increase the lead 6-2 before Gouffon got out of the inning with a groundout to second base.

“I struggled the first inning locating my fastball,” Gouffon said. “Once I started locating my fastball and getting my off-speed pitches down, I did what I had to and the defense backed me up.”

Gouffon led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and Highsmith drew a walk to put two runners on base for Matt Scruggs. The senior blasted a home run over the left field fence to narrow the deficit, 6-5. Scruggs and Gouffon were each 2-for-3 in the game.

Bearden took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a Ryan Ford two-RBI-single. Hunter Daniel followed with a RBI single to give the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead.

Ford knocked in the final two runs on another two-RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth. The junior was 4-for-5 on the night with four RBIs.

“We swung the bats okay,” Buckner said. “We just didn’t do anything else much okay … but I’ll take it.”


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