This time the Rebels had to fight tooth and nail for it.
Rallying for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, South overcame a three-run deficit for a 6-5 win over the Patriots in the winners’ bracket semifinals of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Sunday night.
South (19-10) will play Elizabethton in the winners’ bracket final on Tuesday. The Cyclones beat Unicoi County 6-0 on Sunday.
Sullivan East (15-13) fell into the losers’ bracket. The Patriots will play Tuesday following Elizabethton’s win over Unicoi.
Happy Valley will play Johnson County on Monday at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will play Unicoi County at 7:30 p.m.
HERE COMES THE COMEBACK
Trailing 4-1, it was getting a little late for the Rebels.
“You’re always concerned,” said South coach Anthony Richardson. “You never know when you’re going to get going. I know we’re capable of that. We’ve had a lot of big innings this season. We’ve had more big innings than one-run innings.”
A pair of errors got the rally started and Chase Bowery made East pay with a stinging line-drive double that hugged the left-field line. The hit scored two runs to make it 4-3.
Then Drew Creech authored a mammoth 400-foot triple to center field, tying the game.
“My coach looked at me and said, ‘Don’t miss it,’ ” Creech said. “I was looking fastball and strike. It was, and I turned on it and hit it. It’s deep in center field, so I thought that’s not out. It’s going to hit the wall, so I can at least get a triple.”
A walk and two hit batters later, the Rebels had the lead. Another walk made it 6-4.
East scored twice in the third inning on a hit batter and Dylan Bartley’s sacrifice fly. Bartley added an RBI double in the fifth to make it 3-1. Ethan Perry pushed the advantage with a sacrifice fly.
Bartley had two hits to lead the Patriots.