The Clarksville Academy Cougars hosted the Davidson Academy Bears on Monday, May 3 with a higher seed in the Division II-A region tournament on the line.
Each squad found themselves in the non-elimination game through different routes. Clarksville Academy defeated MJCA in the first round before falling to Donelson Christian Academy in the semifinals, whereas the Bears lost to Friendship Christian in the first round but beat both USN and Friendship in the losers bracket to earn a trip to region.
The Bears’ run ended there, though: CA took the contest 7-2, claiming the No. 3 seed in the upcoming region tournament. Davidson Academy will serve as the No. 4 seed.
The game started at 5:30 instead of 6:30 to avoid potential rain showers in the forecast. After Cougar pitcher Sam Walker worked through a scoreless first inning, CA’s Paris Pridgen began the bottom of the first with a leadoff triple and scored three pitches later on Cooper Wallace’s single. Clarksville Academy added single runs in the second and fourth innings as well, but Davidson began to tighten the screws in the fifth.
The inning started with an error and a walk to put runners on first and second before being moved up by a sacrifice bunt. Jared Vetetoe stepped up and hit a two-run triple, bringing the score to 3-2 while serving as the tying run on third with just one out.
But Sam Walker, who had dealt with traffic on the basepaths all game, buckled down and struck out the next two batters to protect the advantage.
“It’s huge,” said CA head coach Dustin Smith. “We used some of our guys through the district tournament, we saved (Walker) hoping today was going to be the championship game, but it wasn’t. Sam’s been solid for us all year long, and he went out there today through some adversity and got through it.”
Of the nine runners that reached base for Davidson Academy, only those two scored.
“Truth of the matter is (Walker) did a great job on the mound,” said DA head coach Travis Humes. “He went out there and competed, threw a lot of strikes and competed at a high level. Their defense played really well as well. At the plate, we need to attack the fastball a little bit better, but it’s something that we’ll go back to the drawing board on Wednesday and Thursday and we’ll get some work in.”
Walker finished with a complete game, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, three walks, one HBP and four strikeouts. But his excellence didn’t just come on the mound -- he provided himself a few runs of padding too. The Cougars tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth on an E5 and passed ball before Walker ripped a line drive into right field to plate two runs, completing the scoring on the night.
Both Walker and Ty Teasley finished as game leaders with two hits and two RBIs.
The teams will wait until Wednesday before learning who their next opponents will be. Clarksville Academy will visit the loser of Grace Christian Academy vs. MTCS while Davidson Academy will play the winner.
“I think that it’s important that each player just comes and continually stays within themselves,” Humes said. “A lot of times when you get to playoff baseball, you get to next-level baseball, people try to do more than what they can do. We just need to stay within ourselves and play Davidson Academy baseball. That’s what I’m going to challenge our guys to do.”