By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s baseball team opened its season March 10 with a 6-4 Mountain Six Conference loss at Pisgah.
“It was a disappointing loss, especially with it being a conference game, but there were some positives,” Coach Jeremy Ellenburg said. “I felt we played pretty well for it to be our first game.”
Devon Dodgin, Travis Shuford and Jake Moore all had two hits for the Bears.
Brooks Valentine, who pitched the final two and a third innings, was the winning pitcher.
Ellenburg was pleased with the work from his pitchers – Dawson Karup and Austin Townsend. Karup (0-1) pitched into the fifth inning and took the loss.
“Dawson threw a great game,” Ellenburg said. “He’s not a strikeout pitcher. He pitches to contact. Austin came in and did a good job.”
Pisgah scored in the first on Levi Medford’s RBI grounder.
Dodgin’s RBI double put the Bears up 2-0 in the third.
The Mustangs tied it with two runs in the fifth. The first came in on a wild pitch after walks to Noah Webb and Conner Seagraves. Bengie Dillard drove in the tying run with a squeeze bunt.
Pisgah took the lead for good at 5-2 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Dodgin had an RBI single, and Medford followed with a two-run double.
SM cut the gap to 5-4 with two runs in the sixth. After an error and a double by Ryder Sutton, Townsend had an RBI single. Webb drove in the second run with an infield out.
The Bears picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on Jake Moore’s squeeze bunt.
The Mustangs were limited to four hits, although they did receive five walks.
“The thing that frustrated me the most is we beat ourselves,” Ellenburg said. “Little things win games, and little things cost you games. We left the -bases loaded and had a couple of base-running mistakes. We had some plays that we could have executed that we didn’t, and that cost us a couple of runs.”
The Mustang JVs gave up five runs in the sixth inning and lost 10-6.
“We led 6-5 going into the inning, but a couple of plays went against us, negating a strong pitching performance by Brylen Conlin and Clayton Dillard,” Coach Nathan Frizzell said. “The team played well defensively overall in our first game against a strong team.”
Brylen Conlin and Sam Conlin had doubles.