Bulldogs bow out of tournament

By Ivan Sanders

   With their ace Kevin Harrison getting the starting nod on the mound, Hampton felt confident it could hang with the number-one seeded Sullivan Central Cougars.
   The only problem was Harrison battled with control problems in the early going and the Cougars wasted little time in making the Bulldogs pay.
   Scoring nine runs in the first two innings on only one hit -- coming off a bunt with no one covering first base -- Central went on to take a 10-0 victory in six innings over Hampton in the opening game of the 2003 District 1-AA tournament at Joe O'Brien Field on Saturday afternoon.
   "These are critical games because they are a do-or-die situation, and we won," said Central mentor Brandon Krantz. "I told the kids we would do whatever it would take to win and we did just that today with Eric Allen throwing strikes and pitching just a great game."
   Central capitalized in the first with three runs on the one hit and two errors by the 'Dog defense. Allen was tough on the Hampton hitters as only two base runners could reach in the first two innings, with Josh Moss getting on with a walk and Adam Miller singling.
   The big inning for the Cougars was the second frame, where six runs crossed the plate without a hit. Harrison walked four in the inning and pegged one Central batter as well with his defense committing two more errors to open the barn door wide open for Central.
   Both pitchers then settled into a groove with their defenses making the plays behind them including a fantastic diving catch by left fielder Robby England to bring a Central threat to nil with the winning run on third base in the bottom of the fifth.
   With courtesy runner Zack Crabtree ahead of him on a walk, Gene Sanchez picked up the only other hit for Hampton in the top of the fifth inning to place runners at first and third for the 'Dogs before Allen worked his way out of the jam without a run scoring.
   Central finally brought the game to a close in the bottom of the sixth.
   Adam Hardin stung a double and advanced to third on a ground out by DH Shane Jobe. Joey Watson then laced a hard ball toward Moss at short that Moss couldn't get the handle on to allow Hardin to race home with the run and the 10-run mercy rule win.
   With the win, Central will take on Happy Valley after the Warriors took a 3-1 win over Unicoi County. The game will again be at Joe O'Brien Field at 5 p.m. on Monday.
   Said Krantz: "Happy Valley is a great team and the rest of the games are going to be tough. You have to be a good team to advance so all we can do is come and be ready to play."