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Seven-run outburst propels Tribe past Vikings

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Mar 10, 2020 at 2:19 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Beginning a new baseball season against Dobyns-Bennett is no picnic, but neither is opening on the road against Tennessee High.

That it was a Big 7 Conference opener only upped the ante.

Coach Ryan Wagner’s Indians got it done in fine fashion Monday, riding the wave of a decisive second-inning outburst to beat the host Vikings 12-7 at Tod Houston Memorial Field.

D-B, which won the Big 7 regular-season title a year ago, spotted the defending Region 1-AAA champions a three-run lead, but found its stride with a seven-run second and kept pecking away to win comfortably.

The schools play a return game Tuesday at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

“We gave up three in the first inning and hats off to Tennessee High, which has a lot of new faces but came out swinging and did some good things,” Wagner said. “But the way we immediately responded was certainly huge.

“Our older guys did well and contributed a lot, but I was proud of our younger guys who haven’t seen varsity action. Maybe they got a hit, maybe they didn’t, but maybe they fouled off some pitches and took a walk in our big inning.

“But we kept scratching runs out every inning and that was important, too.”

THE BIG INNING

Down 3-0, the Tribe hit the Vikings with that seven spot and never looked back, although THS did close to within 7-6 with a second three-run inning.

Sam Ritz, a 6-foot-2 catcher and the grandson of former Tribe coach Mike Ritz, had a two-run single to fuel the seven-run uprising. Ritz finished with three RBIs and collected four — all singles — of D-B’s 12 hits.

“Yeah, man,” Wagner said. “Sam is a good player who’s been around baseball his entire life. He knows the game and he did a great job for us tonight.”

Dalton Harkleroad had an RBI single in the second. Jake Timbes and Jackson McDavid both drew bases-loaded walks, two of 14 free passes issued by the Vikings.

Two runs scored on a fielding error in right field, one of three Tennessee High miscues.

D-B also committed three errors.

GOOD PITCHING

Tennessee High, which got a pair of two-run doubles from Brayden Blevins to fuel back-to-back three-run innings, could do nothing with McDavid after the second stanza.

The senior right-hander allowed no hits over the third, fourth and fifth innings. In addition, reliever Sebastian Fugate finished with two hitless innings.

“Jackson was not very good the first two innings, but he is mentally tough and his third through fifth innings were outstanding,” Wagner said. “And then Sebastian came in and closed it out well for us.”

LEADERS

In addition to Ritz’s big night, McDavid had two hits and three RBIs and Timbes produced a pair of hits and a couple RBIs. Harkleroad and Carsen Simpson each had a run-scoring single for the Tribe.

Timbes and McDavid had back-to-back RBI hits to make it a 10-6 game in the fourth.

McDavid struck out nine batters in his five innings of work.

THS, which used five pitchers, received a run-scoring double from Daniel Hicks.

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