GREENBACK — It was a win, but still, Greenback coach Justin Ridenour saw something in Tuesday’s game he wasn’t pleased with.
He noticed his players weren’t loose at the plate, and though his team still defeated Rockwood, 7-5, he hoped to get that fixed as soon as possible.
Just a day later, the issue was solved. Again facing Rockwood, though this time at home, the Cherokees showed a much improved presence when up to bat, leading to a 19-RBI performance in Greenback’s 26-5 run-rule win Wednesday.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Ridenour told The Daily Times. “I think after yesterday, we were a little tight at the plate. It seemed like we were getting out of our approaches. I think tonight at the plate, we kind of went back to what we’ve worked on all preseason, which was working the middle of the field, taking advantage of up counts and making sure that we’re ready to go in the box, and it paid off tonight.”
It didn’t just pay off for Greenback (2-0). It paid off in a major way, as the Cherokees used a six-run bottom of the second inning to take the lead over Rockwood, which had held a 5-1 advantage.
After three straight walks and a pitching change, Brady Allison batted in Madden McNeil on a single, and Tyler Frazier ran home on a wild pitch. It all led up to the game’s highlight play, though, when Cason Workman smacked a grand slam to push the Cherokees ahead, 7-5.
Greenback then tallied seven runs in the third inning and a whopping 12 in the fourth as the game got away from Rockwood. That fourth inning was punctuated by fielding errors by the Tigers, as they continuously dropped fly balls in the outfield and allowed Greenback runs to come in to score.
It helped, too, that Brady Collins was holding taut on the mound; he struck out 10 batters across four innings. Frazier took over for the top of the fifth, after which the game was called via run-rule.
“(Collins) is one of our top arms,” Ridenour said. “He’s a senior, so we expect to do well every time he steps on the mound. Got off to a little bit of a rough start, but really liked the way he bounced back in the third and fourth inning. Got in a good rhythm, and got us back in the dugout early for our offense to go back to work.”
Workman ended Wednesday with five RBIs, followed by Carson Moore with three and Caden Lawson, Allison and Lane Cook tallying two each. Experience is fueling the Cherokees this season, as Greenback boasts a deep roster both position-wise and age-wise.
“I think our depth on the mound and our depth at the plate is something,” Ridenour said. “We’ve got a veteran team now, a lot of juniors and seniors. We’ve got some sophomores who are contributing. So I think overall depth is something and really what we have on the mound pitching-wise hopefully can carry us to where we want to go.”
Wednesday’s win didn’t just give Greenback a quick 2-0 start on the season. It also gave the Cherokees their first two district wins, a feat Ridenour is equally as pleased with.
“I think it’s a good confidence-booster for our team,” Ridenour said. “We know we still have a lot to work on. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. But any time you can get a district win and start 2-0 in the district, I think it’s something you can be proud of.”
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