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Middle school baseball team begins inaugural season

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By The Staff

It has often been rumored to occur, people talked about it, but nothing had been realized, until January 2010 when CCHS Head Baseball Coach Brad Collette held tryouts for the new Campbell County Middle School baseball team.

A team was selected and practices began. Collette selected the team from both Jacksboro and LaFollette middle schools, so the team would play together as the CCMS Cougars just as the high school team.

The players are coached by the high school staff, learning unity, tradition and proper baseball to serve as a feeder to the high school program.

The season was set to start March 13, but due to rain the first six games were rescheduled. On March 18, the CCMS Cougars ran out onto the field for the first time during a game at Maynardville. Andrew Blake Evans was given the historic start. Evans worked two innings, giving up one hit, three walks, hit one batter, fanned three, and gave up one earn run. However, six errors allowed five unearned runs to score. Maynardville scored four more runs against pitchers Jacob Monday and Tate McGhee with the help of additional errors to claim a 10-0 decision.

On March 20, CCMS hosted a five-game play day with Scott County, Oneida and Maynardville. McGhee pitched four shutout innings, scattering four hits, four walks and striking out two batters on just 67 pitches in the first game vs. Oneida.  

In the bottom of the fourth inning, catcher Joseph Williams and left fielder Evans both singled and then scored on centerfielder David Agular’s single and first baseman Jacob Monday’s sacrifice hit, respectively.  

These were the first runs scored and runs batted in for the CCMS program. With a 2-0 lead, Nick Bailey replaced McGhee on the mound. CCMS committed three errors that aided Oneida’s three hits and walk to score five runs (3 unearned) in the fifth. McGhee led off the fifth with a walk, advanced to third base on a pair of steals, and scored on a sac hit by Jarrett Segal before Oneida retired the side and won the game, 5-3.

In the second play day game, CCMS faced Scott County. CCMS jumped out early in the first inning. With one out, pitcher Jordan Bruce and catcher Williams both singled, third baseman Bailey reached on an error allowing Bruce to score, first baseman Monday, left fielder Noah Vibbert, and right fielder Evans all drove in runs with walks.

Center fielder Spencer Roberts delivered an RBI single and second baseman Brandon Miller drove in CCMS fifth run with a walk chasing the Scott County pitcher. McGhee welcomed the new hurler with a 2-run single and Bruce added one more run, the inning’s eighth, with his second hit of the inning.  

In the second inning, CCMS added three more runs when Bailey walked and scored on a double by Monday, Vibbert walked, Evans reached on a force and then both Evans and Monday scored on errors. Bruce cruised through the first two innings, fanning five batters, walking only one and holding Scott County to just one hit, as CCMS took a commanding 11-1 lead into the third. Team substitutions led to five errors, and Bruce lost the plate as he walked two and hit three Scott County batters while giving up two hits for a deadly combination of nine runs (5 unearned) to close the score, 11-10.

CCMS coach Andy Ellison replaced Bruce with Evans, who got the last two outs, one on a strikeout to record the first historic win for the team. Bruce was credited with the win, while Evans got the save.

In the final game of the play day, CCMS faced Maynardville. Vibbert took the mound and struggled with his control, walking 11 in 2.1 innings. Monday pitched the remaining 1.2 innings. CCMS managed to hit .231 and lost the game 9-1.

Agular did have a double and a walk in the game, giving him a team high .750 average and five total bases for the day.

CCMS traveled to Clinton on March 23. McGhee took the hill as the team’s workhorse, going 4.1 innings, on 82 pitches and walking just two batters. However, he was touched for 13 hits and 14 runs (only 6 earned). Defense continued to be a thorn in the Cougars’ paw as nine errors were committed.  Clinton won, 17-6, but, of its 17 runs, only 7 were earned. Thus, without the errors CCMS would’ve made a better impression of 7-6. Offensively, CCMS hit .333 (9-for-27), led by Williams (2-for-4, 1 RBI) and Bailey (2-for-4, 1 run scored, 2 RBI), Bruce and Monday (both 1-for-3 with an RBI). James Andrew Evans (1-for-4 with an RBI) and Roberts (1-for-1 with an RBI).

Over the course of the play day and the Clinton games, the top hitters for Campbell County were Agular (.750), Harrell (.500), Williams (.455), Bruce (.429) and Monday (.400).

Williams leads in hits (5) and is tied with Agular for total bases (5). Bailey and Roberts are tied with most RBI (3). In pitches per inning, Evans and McGhee lead the way with 17.9.

Evans has a 0.00 ERA, Bruce is tops in strikeouts (5) and McGhee leads in average innings pitched (8.1).