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Dawgs’ defense leaky in loss to Webb
BHS baseball opener sees early 2-0 lead end in 9-5 Spartans win

The Bearden Bulldogs got exactly the kind of start they were hoping for in their season-opening game at Webb School of Knoxville Tuesday evening, March 16.

Junior Dakota Stallings’ homered in the top of the first inning off of Webb ace Justin Alexander.

The righthander seemed rattled when, four batters later, he walked Rob Thress with the bases loaded.

However, Alexander would eventually settle down and the Bulldogs defense could not hold the 2-0 lead, as the Spartans would go on to win 9-5 at Morris Field.

Bearden errors were as costly as they were numerous, seven in total leading to six runs for Webb.

Cole Massey homered for the Spartans in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 2-1.

Meanwhile, Alexander had found his groove, facing only six batters in the next two innings.

Bearden's troubles started innocently enough in the bottom half of the third when a ground ball bounced off the chest of sophomore Derek Lance.

A routine fly ball to right was dropped and a double play was botched allowing Webb to tie the game at 2-2.

With runners at second and third, Webb second baseman Kyle King singled to left and three unearned runs later the Spartans had a 4-2 lead.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to 4-3 with a run in the top of the fourth.

But the E-bug returned with a vengeance in the bottom of the inning.

The Dawgs posted three more errors and the Spartans took advantage of each one, producing a 7-3 lead.

“It's a tough field to play on and they have a good home-field advantage,” Stallings said.

“We came out hitting against a great pitcher [Alexander], but you can't make six or seven errors and win the game,” he added.

The turning point of the game came with one out in the top of the fifth.

Down 7-5 after Chris Hamilton's two-run double, Thress appeared to have closed the gap even more.

His fly ball down the right field lined was sure to drop, scoring Hamilton, but Spartans right fielder Austin Kerns made a spectacular play, robbing Thress and holding Hamilton at second.

“That was a nice catch,” Webb head coach Clark Wormsley said. “[A] 7-5 game, that was a great lay-out catch by Austin.”

The Spartans added two insurance runs in their half of the sixth and reliever Hayden Hall shut down the Bulldogs to close out the game.

“I was really proud of the way our guys swung the bats tonight,” said Bearden head coach Jack Tate, coaching his first-ever game as Bulldogs boss after several years as a BHS assistant.

“We faced one of the five best pitchers [Alexander] in East Tennessee tonight and we stood toe-to-toe with him,” Tate added.

“All four pitchers [Dean Cates, Daniel Hullett, Chase Keen and Joe Bruce] were on target. We have to play better defense to beat a good team like Webb,” Tate added.


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