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Champs wrap up Viking Classic with win

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 4/3/23

BELL BUCKLE — Despite a comeback bid by the Canton Little Giants (Ill.), the Cascade Champions held on to secure an 11-9 victory after scoring 11 runs in the first frame of their final game of …

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Champs wrap up Viking Classic with win


BELL BUCKLE — Despite a comeback bid by the Canton Little Giants (Ill.), the Cascade Champions held on to secure an 11-9 victory after scoring 11 runs in the first frame of their final game of the Viking Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Cascade (2-9) only recorded one hit in the game, but jumped out to an early lead by being patient at the plate as they were walked seven times and hit by pitch three times in the opening frame which forced an early Canton (4-3-1) pitching change. 
The Champions took a 3-0 lead after the first three batters were walked to load the bases, and a series of hit by pitch-walk-hit by pitch followed.
In the next at-bat, freshman Jordan Childress laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Walker Craig from third, and Logan Green followed it up with Cascade’s lone hit of the game on an RBI single to take a 5-0 lead with only one out down in the inning. 
“When you’re able to draw walks, those are good quality at-bats,” Cascade head coach Travis Sheffield said.
“Guys were seeing pitches, taking pitches, and just knowing where the zone was. We played a little small ball, and I’m a big advocate of that. I’ve been trying to get the guys to buy into that, and we’re getting there. We live in the ‘hit the long ball’ era and our ballpark feeds into that, but we will win games playing small ball.” 
Cascade scored two more runs two at-bats later when Brayden Dennison sent a high fly ball to the Little Giants left fielder, who had some trouble with the unforgiving wind, and dropped it to land Dennison on second base. 
Two more Champion runs scored after another series of walks and hit by pitches for a 9-0 advantage, and Canton’s starter was replaced on the mound afterwards. 
Despite the new arm on the rubber, Sawyer Lovvorn plated Cascade’s final two runs of the game on a fielder’s choice to score Jaxon Sheffield and Craig.
Lovvorn, Craig, and Conner Melson led the Champions with two RBIs each. 
The Little Giants secured the final out two at-bats later to get out of the inning with an 11-0 deficit. 
Cascade started the game with Logan Green on the mound, but went to freshman Jayden Hathcock to start the second inning with a healthy lead in hand. 
Hathcock tossed two innings, and gave up four runs on three hits with two being solo home runs. 
Dennison replaced him in the top of the fourth inning for his first competitive outing since returning from an elbow injury. 
In his only inning of work, he gave up four earned runs on three hits while fanning two batters. 
With important games coming up on the Champions schedule, Sheffield approached the game as an opportunity to build some confidence in his bullpen. 
“Green is talented when he puts it all together,” Sheffield said.
“My approach today was to get him on and get him off with a successful outing. He went out there and got three quick outs, so I changed it up. Hathcock is a freshman, but he’s one of those that when we get later in the year, he could be a big player. He threw a lot of strikes today, but had four errors in the field behind him. Dennison is coming off a Tommy John injury, and that was his first competitive outing on the mound in two years. We’ve been working up to this point all year by trying to build his confidence back up.”
With three runs in the top of the second inning and their second solo homer in the top of the third, Canton chipped at Cascade’s lead to make it an 11-4 game.
The Champions went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third, and the Little Giants made another push to close their deficit even more. 
Dennison notched his first strikeout with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, but gave up three consecutive singles right after to make it an 11-8 game. 
Canton scored one more run on a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat, but Dennison answered back with an inning-ending strikeout to get out of the jam. 
Only two Champions saw the plate in the bottom of the fourth as the game reached its two hour time limit, and they escaped with the 11-9 victory. 
The win was Cascade’s only victory of the Viking Classic as they suffered back-to-back losses in their first two games with both being decided by a score of 7-6, but Sheffield is more focused on developing his squad and preparing them for later games in the season. 
“Honestly, I’m not even looking at wins and losses. I’m looking more at how we’re developing, and how disciplined we are,” he said. “The thing with our team is we don’t have a lot of guys with a lot of innings under their belt. We’re loaded with upperclassmen, but they haven’t played a lot. That’s what these tournaments are for – being out there on the field and improving. I think if we focus on the simple things and make the routine plays, the wins will come. We just have to make sure we’re ready to go towards the end of the year, and try to be that last team that’s still playing ball games in Murfreesboro.” 
A pair of important games are coming up quickly for the Champions as they will host Grundy County on Monday night, and follow it up by traveling to Grundy County on Tuesday night with a chance to secure their first District 7-AA win of the season. 
“Every district game now is a must-win,” Sheffield said. “Grundy County is going to battle with us. I think every team in this district is a rivalry game. No one lets up on anyone on any night which is good. It kind of tests your moxy and heart a little bit. After today’s victory, hopefully our guys come out disciplined and ready to play to get us two big district wins.”

Canton 031 5 — 9 6 2
Cascade (11)00 0 — 11 1 2

Cascade: Logan Green 1-for-2.
WP: Jayden Hathcock. 

Lawrence Co. 7, Cascade 6
In their opening game of the Viking Classic on Thursday, the Champions battled back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game at 4-4 heading into the final inning, but ultimately fell 7-6 after Lawrence County scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning. 
Facing a 4-0 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning, Noah McGeary doubled to score Brayden Dennison and Chance Brown, and Jaxon Sheffield followed it up with a home run shot to center field to tie the game at 4-4.
The Wildcats plated three more runs in the top of the sixth on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice bunt to take a 7-4 lead.
Cascade attempted to rally by scoring two runs on an error in the bottom of the sixth, but couldn’t complete the comeback as Walker Craig grounded into a double play to end the game. 
Zach Crosslin started on the mound for the Champions as he gave up three earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout in four innings of work before being replaced by Conner Melson. 
Melson finished out the final two innings, and gave up two runs. 

Lawrence Co. 200 203 — 7 7 2
Cascade 000 042 — 6 7 4

Cascade: Sawyer Lovvorn 2-for-2, Jaxon Sheffield 1-for-2,Conner Melson 1-for-2, Chance Brown 1-for-3, Noah McGeary 1-for-3, Brayden Dennison 1-for-3. 
LP: Crosslin. 

Summertown 7, Cascade 6
The Champions took an early 6-2 lead over the Summertown Eagles in their second game of the tournament, but couldn’t hold onto their lead and fell 7-6 for the second game in a row. 
Summertown opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first, but Cascade answered back with six runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. 
Jaxon Sheffield plated their first run of the game with an RBI single, and Sawyer Lovvorn followed it up with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
Sheffield was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI. 
A few at-bats later, Jayden Hatchcock and Brayden Dennison knocked back-to-back singles to score two runs each, and to take a 6-2 lead before the inning ended. 
After scoring one run on a fielder’s choice, the Eagles had the bases loaded with two outs down in the top of the second, and launched a grand slam to center field to take a 7-6 lead.
Cascade loaded the bases two separate times throughout the rest of the game, but couldn’t bring the tying run home either time as strikeouts plagued them at the plate.
Chance Brown started on the mound for Cascade and went 1 and 2/3 innings with six earned runs and three strikeouts. 
He was replaced by Walker Craig who went 1 and 1/3 innings with one earned run on two hits and one strikeout. 
Logan Green finished up the game in the top of the fourth inning, allowing one hit and fanning two batters. 

Summertown 250 0 — 7
Cascade 600 0 — 6

Cascade: Jaxon Sheffield 2-for-2, Brayden Dennison 1-for-2, Noah McGeary 1-for-2, Jayden Hatchcock 1-for-3.
LP: Chance Brown.