Cardinals sweep Bobcats
By Andrew Alexander
Staff Photos by Amanda Lowrance
( TOP) McNairy Central’s Austin Gafford slides in safely as Blake Chandler welcomes him home. (LOWER)
Josh Chappell cranks his second homerun of the game against the Bobcats.
Passion, intensity, controversy; these are all words one can associate with a rivalry game.
The rivalry game played at Adamsville High School Friday afternoon between the Adamsville Cardinals and the McNairy Central Bobcats did not lack any of these qualities, as the Cardinals swept the season series with the Bobcats winning a closely fought battle by a score of 4-3.
“It’s always wild when the Bobcats and Cardinals mix it up. Today was no exception,” said Adamsville Coach Steven Lambert.
Adamsville’s Josh Chappell played with passion and intensity, but unfortunately was the source of a bit of controversy in Friday’s contest after a homerun hit in the first inning was ruled an out because the bat used was deemed “illegal” in TSSAA competitions by the umpires, despite the outrage voiced by the Cardinal coaching staff.
The Bobcats took an early 2-0 lead over the Cardinals in the first inning by being patient at the plate while the Cardinals’ pitching staff walked in the first two runs of the game.
Adamsville was not subdued by the shaky start, and behind the strength of a two-run blast to left field from the bat of Bradley Melton, the Cardinals knotted the score at 2. Chappell followed Bradley’s home run with one of his own, giving Adamsville back-to-back home runs before the run was disallowed.
The “illegal” bat dilemma resulted in a lull in game play while Bobcat and Cardinal coaches conversed with the umpires, and members of the crowd stood dumbfounded.
“That was the fourth or fifth time his bat has been checked, but the first time it has been tossed out,” Coach Lambert said.
The delay seemed to have little to no affect on either pitching staff, as both hurlers made quick work of batters in the second inning.
Courtesy of a Chappell two-run bomb in the bottom of the third, which would have been his second home run of the game, the Cardinals carried a 4-2 lead into the fourth.
After a rally cry came from the McNairy Central dugout, the Bobcats looked to have regained their bearings as the fourth inning began.
Central’s Austin Gafford hit a hard ground ball to first and reached base on an error. Craig Mullins then rocketed a line drive straight up the middle of the diamond and the center fielder failed to make the play. Gafford crossed the plate as the ball reached the center field wall, cutting the Bobcats’ deficit to one run.
Both Adamsville and McNairy Central’s bullpens navigated the fifth and sixth innings and came out unscathed, leading their teams to what would prove to be a nail-biting finish in the seventh.
With their backs to the wall, Blake Chandler hammered a single down the line and put the game-tying run on base for the Bobcats. After a Dakota Roden walk, McNairy Central was in business again with a runner in scoring position and the go-ahead run standing on first base.
Adamsville’s John Reed Odom was brought in to slam the door on the Bobcats, but the first batter he faced, Tyler Wells, singled to center and pushed the crowd to the edges of their seats. With no outs, and the bases now loaded, Odom delivered a 3-2 pitch that resulted in a called third strike on McNairy Central’s batter, igniting an uproar from the Bobcat supporters and coaching staff.
With the bases still loaded, Central’s Marcus Nash hit the ball straight back to Odom on the mound, and after quick deliberation he fired the ball to his catcher and cut the Bobcat baserunner down at the plate for the Cardinals’ second out of the inning. Odom then forced the final McNairy Central hitter into hitting a slow grounder to first base for the last out, and the Cardinals found themselves victorious over their cross-county rivals.
“Both pitchers threw well and both teams played hard, it was a great rivalry game,” said McNairy Central Coach Brian Franks.
Though there were questionable calls and tense moments in this rivalry contest, the players of both teams conducted themselves with class and displayed a tremendous level of sportsmanship.
Kasey Hurley threw 3 2/3 innings while striking out 4, and picked up the win for the Cardinals. John Reed Odom was awarded the save.
Wells and Mullins each singled and drove in a run for McNairy Central in Saturday afternoon’s action.
Melton was Adamsville’s leading offensive cog, finishing 2 for 3 with a home run, 2 runs scored, and 2 runs batted in.
The loss drops the Bobcat’s record to 17-7 overall, but they remain in first place in the southern portion of the District 14AA standings with a 5-1 record.
With the win, Adamsville moves to 15-10 overall with a 5-3 record in District 15A play. The Cardinals had won 4 of their last 5 and looked to stay hot in a district game against Madison Academic Magnet in Jackson on Monday.