In the bottom of the seventh inning, Nolensville scored on a walk-off error for a 2-1 victory in the Class AA state tournament at Murfreesboro Blackman on Tuesday.
The Cyclones fell to 26-9 on the season and will play in the losers’ bracket Wednesday at 11 a.m. against Pigeon Forge (27-8). It would take four straight wins for Elizabethton to reach Friday’s title game.
“We’ve got to win them all,” said Elizabethton head coach Ryan Presnell. “But this little baseball club’s back has been against the wall since we heard about Corey Russell’s injury (in November). I wouldn’t be shocked if we were playing for it all on Friday. These kids are very good in pressure situations when our backs are against the wall. We relish the opportunity to come back. We’re not done yet.”
Nolensville will play Covington, a 6-3 winner over Pigeon Forge, in the winners’ bracket final.
If Elizabethton wins Wednesday morning, it will play a second game in the evening.
With runners on first and second and one out, Carson Robble grounded to pitcher Lawson Wagner, who cut down the lead runner at third base.
Trying to turn it into an inning-ending double play, Matthew Dailey’s throw to first base got away and Jackson Hill scored. There was some contact between the runner and first baseman, but not enough for Presnell to launch a major protest.
“I thought it was a clean call,” said Presnell. “But I think it could have been questioned. The umpires had already left the field, and they’re not going to change that call. If it was interference they would have called it on the spot.
“There was definitely a chance to get the double play. I’m fine with Matthew’s decision to throw the ball.”
The inning started with Aidan Young reaching first on a dropped third strike. Tyler Smith sacrificed Young to second and Hill drew a walk.
FINDING A WAY
Elizabethton scratched out a run in the third inning. Ashton Wilson went all the way to second base on an infield error.
Nico Ashley bunted and the Knights made an error on the play that allowed Wilson to score from second base.
TYING THE SCORE
Nolensville got even in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, a hit batter and a walk extended the inning. Then T. Hummel drove in the tying run with a single to center field.
The Knights tried to take the lead with a double steal, but the Cyclones’ defense came up with a 1-3-4-2-5 putout to end the inning.
It was a supreme effort for Dailey, the Cyclones’ starting pitcher. He worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs, one earned. He walked four and struck out six.
“To come down here and give the type of effort he did and hold them down, it was very admirable,” said Presnell.
Nolensville starter Reece Milam was tough on Elizabethton’s hitters. He allowed only two hits and one run, unearned, with two walks and six strikeouts. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning until Evan Carter broke it up with a single.
At the plate, Smith was the only batter for either team with two hits.