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Champs sweep Grundy Co. for key 7-AA wins

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 4/5/23

BELL BUCKLE — The Cascade Champions put together a solid performance both in the field and at the plate with a 6-1 victory over the Grundy County Yellow Jackets on Monday night for their first …

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Champs sweep Grundy Co. for key 7-AA wins


BELL BUCKLE — The Cascade Champions put together a solid performance both in the field and at the plate with a 6-1 victory over the Grundy County Yellow Jackets on Monday night for their first District 7-AA win of the season. 
Starting pitcher Walker Craig tossed 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts on the night while also knocking a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
After a couple of tough losses over the past couple of weeks, Cascade head coach Travis Sheffield was waiting for his squad to put together a well-rounded win. 
“We’ve kind of been waiting for a more complete game like this,” he said. “Grundy is a good team. I played with their coach at Motlow, so I knew they were going to be disciplined and well-coached. Only giving up one run is big, especially against those guys. They’re aggressive and can really swing the bat.”
The Champions (3-9, 1-2) opened the contest with a clean top of the first inning as Craig struck out the first batter he faced and forced the next two into ground outs.
They followed it up with three runs in the bottom of the inning behind an RBI single from Noah McGeary and Craig’s two-run shot to take an early 3-0 lead. 
Neither team produced more than a single each over the next two innings until the top of fourth inning when Grundy County scored their only run of the game on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. 
Craig got out of the inning with a strikeout and added two more in the top of the fifth to bring his total to six at that point of the contest. 
In the top of the sixth inning, Craig found himself in a bases-loaded jam after striking out two batters and giving up a walk, single, and a hit by pitch, but he hunkered down and fanned the final batter to get out of the inning. 
“He’s matured this season. We hit a bump in the road a couple games ago, but I gave him a chance to reflect on some things,” Sheffield said.
“One game I let him kind of be a coach just to get a different perspective. We’ve had some trouble with giving up free bases, but I think he only gave up a couple in 6 1/3  innings, and everybody behind him played solid defense. He continues to grow maturity-wise, and I think if he can continue to handle that part of the game then he’ll be special.”
The Champions carried the momentum from the end of the top half of the sixth into the bottom half as they added three insurance runs with a two-out rally to take a 6-1 lead into the final inning. 
Chance Brown got the two-out rally going with an RBI single to score Jayden Hathcock from third base after he stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Another run scored in the next at-bat with Noah McGeary knocking his second RBI single of the game to bring Brown all the way back around.
McGeary went 2-for-4 with two RBIs on the night to lead Cascade at the plate. 
In the following at-bat, Jaxon Sheffield sent a moonshot to Grundy County’s center fielder who had some trouble reading the ball in the air, and dropped it to allow McGeary to score Cascade’s final run of the game. 
“We swung it well today, but we still need to operate and perform the little things.” Sheffield said. “We haven’t had many two out RBIs this year, so Chance’s hit was huge in the sixth inning. It gave us some momentum to score two more runs after.”
Craig faced and struck out one more batter in the top of the seventh inning before he was replaced by Logan Green to close out the game. 
Green fanned the first batter he saw, and forced the next one into a ground ball to Sheffield, who made a great throw on the run to get the out and end the game. 
The two teams will see each other again on Tuesday night as the Champions will travel up to Grundy County with an opportunity to sweep the season series, and improve to 2-2 in district play. 
“If we can go out and throw strikes, then I think we’ll be on the right side,” Sheffield said. “I told Jaxon to just go out there tomorrow and throw it over the plate, and let the defense work behind you. Tonight was indicative of that with Walker – just throw the ball over the plate and let your guys behind you pick you up.”

Grundy Co. 000 100 0 — 1 3 1
Cascade 300 003 x — 6 8 1

Cascade: Noah McGeary 2-for-4, Conner Melson 1-for-2, Sawyer Lovvorn 1-for-2, Jayden Hathcock 1-for-2, Chance Brown 1-for-3, Walker Craig 1-for-3, Jaxon Sheffield 1-for-4.
WP: Craig

Cascade 6, Grundy Co. 2
COALMONT — After notching their first 7-AA win of the season on Monday night in front of a home crowd against Grundy County, Cascade followed up with a second win in as many days to complete the sweep of the Yellow Jackets with a 6-2 win.
Jaxon Sheffield pitched seven strong innings, giving up two runs on four hits, while fanning 11 batters.
Cascade had to rally from a two-run deficit after the Yellow Jackets scored a single run in the third and fourth innings.
But the Cascade battery picked Sheffield up in the fifth inning with four runs.
Chance Brown was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Noah McGeary ground into a fielder’s choice, scoring Sawyer Lovvorn for the second run of the inning.
Sheffield helped his own cause with a sac-fly to score Brayden Dennison before McGeary scored a fourth run on a Yellow Jacket error.
Cascade padded its lead with two more runs in the seventh.

Cascade 000 040 2 — 6 5 3
Grundy Co. 001 100 0 — 2 4 3

Cascade: Walker Craig 1-for-3, Conner Melson 1-for-3, Sawyer Lovvorn 2-for-3, Brayden Dennison 1-for-2.
WP: Sheffield