Riverdogs rumble to championship win


star staff


  The Riverdogs wanted to end their baseball season on a good note. On Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Rumble in the Mountain Classic, they played to the tune of A sharp.
  Erupting for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the gold and purple regime broke open a close contest en route to a 10-4 championship win at Cannon/Gouge Park.
  "This was a great way to end the season," the Riverdog's co-manager Steve Hyder stated. "These kids battled the entire day. It was definitely a good win."
  The Riverdogs took a 1-0 lead in the first when Logan Bowers walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Weston Issacs. A solid single up the gut by Christian Taylor scored Bowers for a 1-0 lead.
  Christian Taylor and Tyler Brock were cruising on the mound through three innings before a rocky fourth inning spelled doom for both pitchers. Knoxville Halls took a 4-1 lead in the fourth when Brent Hughes walked and Brock singled to start the inning.
  After another free pass to Mitchell Davis, Blake Gilner was safe on an error, scoring one run. A wild pitch brought home another run as Halls took a 2-1 lead. Quenton Bowman delivered a single for two more runs giving Halls a 4-1 advantage.
  Just when you thought the Riverdogs were up the creek without a paddle, they responded to tie the game. Weston Issac and Preston Smith led off with base hits and later scored when Christian Taylor smacked a RBI single to close the gap at 4-3.
  Christian Taylor continued to third on a throwing error by the catcher, and later scored when Zac Messer laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to tie the game at 4-4.
  Messer relieved Christian Taylor in the fifth and worked his way out of several jams to keep the Halls from taking the lead. Messer got two ground ball back to himself in the fifth with the bases loaded to keep the score tied and did the same in the sixth with runners at second and third to prevent Halls for moving in front.
  Preston Smith smacked one out as a double to start the sixth and later scored on a wicked line drive off the shortstop by Christian Taylor. Messer singled and stole second to put runners at second and third. The Riverdogs gave another version of small ball when Josh Guinn laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for a single that brought home both runs on a good hustle play from Messer after Guinn got caught trying to sneak into second.
  Singles by Corey Hilton and Drew Hyder placed set the stage for Austin Taylor who stroked a single in left center for two more RBI's and a 10-4 advantage. Hilton gave fans his version of Brooks Robinson in the seventh when he made a diving stop at third base and threw the runner out for the defensive play of the game.
  Christian Taylor had three hits to pace the Riverdogs while Smith, Hilton and Hyder gathered two each. Issacs, Messer, Guinn and Austin Taylor added solo hits for the Riverdogs. Dustin Bowery reached base two times by way of the bean ball.
  Messer earned the win in relief for the Riverdogs.
  "I just wished we could have played this way in Florida," stated co-manager Gary Smith. "This group of boys played today the way we knew they were capable."
  "This has been a great season for the Riverdogs," he said. "I am proud of all the players and very thankful for the parent support. I didn't know at the beginning of the season if I would be here or not (after suffering a near fatal heart attack at Happy Valley Elementary School while officiating a basketball game earlier this year). I love the game of baseball and I enjoy being around these guys. God has been very good to me."