Riverdogs knock down USSSA state champs

from staff reports

   On a hot steamy night, the East Tennessee Riverdogs stood tall against the eventual state champions, the Chattanooga-based "Choo-Choo Mustangs."
   In an extremely heated match up to start the USSSA state tournament, the Riverdogs nailed the Mustangs to the wall by a score of 9-4.
   On opening night, the Mustangs struck first for one run in the third and another in the fourth, but this woke up the 'Dogs, as they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
   Preston Smith led off the fourth with a solid shot to left, followed by Christian Taylor's line shot to put men on first and second. Smith stole third cleanly just before Zak Messer sent a rocket to right to score both runners.
   Messer later got caught up between third and home and was thrown out. A.J. Kirby shot one off of the left-center field fence for a double and would later score on a Josh Guinn single, putting the Riverdogs up 3-2 going into the fifth.
   The fifth inning saw the Mustangs post another two runs with good plate work by Williams and Courter. The Riverdogs came up with a 6-4-3 (Guinn-Smith-Hilton) double play to end the threat, but the Chattanooga boys went up 4-3.
   The bottom of the fifth was quiet for the Riverdogs as was the top of the sixth for the Mustangs.
   The bottom of the sixth was a different story as the Riverdogs went right back to work, putting up six runs on hits and bunts from Logan Bowers, Wes Issacs, Smith, Messer and Austin Taylor.
   Squeeze bunts played a key role in the inning as the Mustangs folded up under the constant pressure with their coach calling out for his pitcher to bean the 'Dog hitters "between the eyes."
   Of course, this caused some very ill feelings between the teams, but in the end the Riverdogs cruised to a 9-4 victory over the eventual state champions, the "Choo-Choo Mustangs."
   This would be the only set back for the Mustangs for the weekend.
   In other games, the Riverdogs bested the Hendersonville Volcanoes behind the pitching of Will Scheuer, by a score of 16-1. Several players contributed at the plate including Cory Hilton, Drew Hyder, Nathan Matthews, Myles Key and Kirby with a roundtripper.
   The Nashville Storm bested the 'Dogs in pool play 3-1 as the 'Dogs had several base running mistakes.
   Coming out of pool play as a No. 2 seed, the Riverdogs again faced The Storm. Once again, the Riverdogs had twice the hits as the Storm, but could not string them together, falling 3-0 in the semifinal.
   Christian Taylor pitched for the win against the Mustangs of Chattanooga with Kirby picking up the save. Scheuer picked up the win verses the Volcanoes while Dustin Joyner and Kirby were the hard-luck losers against the Nashville Storm in separate games.
   Now it is off to the USSSA World Series in Kissimmee, Florida.