Morristown East rallied with five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and then scored the walk-off run in the sixth to down Grainger 9-8 in the final game of the night of the Citizen Tribune Hardball Classic.
After dropping a tough game to Tennessee High in the first game they played on Friday, the Hurricanes mixed up their lineup a bit against the Grizzlies to get some playing time for some of the younger players. East head coach Matt Ford said he was proud of the way his young team responded when their backs were against the wall late in the game.
“There was a lot of resiliency from the guys,” he said. “We had a little heart-to-heart talk after the first game and hopefully we got some things straightened out and everyone understands that we are here to work together as a team. I was proud of our effort in the second game. We gave some guys an opportunity to play that hadn’t had that opportunity this year and they didn’t do a bad job. Our leaders came back in there in the end and led us to a victory.”
East built a 3-0 advantage when Jesse Haase scored on a fielder’s choice that put David Ellison aboard in the first inning, Kyle Compton doubled in a run in the third and Joey Johnson scored on a Grainger error, also in the third.
Grainger scored three runs in the fourth to tie the game. Jeb Hurst singled to lead things off and Luke Jones followed with a one-bagger. Kobe Evans’ single was the third in a row as Hurst came around to score. Jace Maxey had the first of his three RBIs in the game when he pushed pinch runner Eli May across on a groundout play. Clay Crider also grounded out but not before Evans raced home to knot things up, 3-3.
The Grizzlies claimed the lead in the fifth by putting up a five spot. Jake Myers singled and stole second base and Bryson Collins reached on an East error. Evans walked to load the bases and Maxey came through in the clutch again, this time smacking a two-run double to left field. Evans and Maxey both came home on a wild pitch as it appeared the Grizzlies were in control with an 8-3 lead.
Haase reached on a Grainger error in the home half of the fifth and Layne Atkins doubled to right field. Johnson scored Haase on a fielder’s choice and Atkins later came home on another Grizzlies’ bobble. Bradley Edwards had an RBI as did Carson Shockley as he singled in two runs to tie things up once more at 8-8.
Errors haunted the Grizzlies all night, and it was a miscue that ended the contest in the sixth. Landon Grizzell singled to center field and stole second to get into scoring position. Once Jacob Gossett was walked intentionally, Atkins brought home the winning run when he reached on the fifth Grainger error of the night to produce the 9-8 final tally.