Sports

Bullpen Struggles as Braves Fall to Cubs

Braves2Anthony Rizzo smacked a tiebreaking RBI single with one out in the eighth inning and Matt Szczur followed with his first career grand slam to lift the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Braves on Friday at Wrigley Field. With the win, the Cubs are now 17-5 and off to their best start since the 1907 team was 18-4 in its first 22 games.

With the game tied at 1 in the Chicago eighth, pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella doubled to left off Jim Johnson before getting forced out at third on Dexter Fowler’s fielder’s choice. Jason Heyward walked and Ben Zobrist singled to load the bases and chase Johnson. Rizzo greeted lefty Eric O’Flaherty with a single to center to score Fowler. Szczur then launched an 0-1 pitch from Chris Withrow into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the season.
“I can’t explain the feelings I have,” Szczur said. “I was super excited. I want to contribute to the team and make an impact, and it’s great to do so in that manner.”
The Braves had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Freddie Freeman’s leadoff home run, only the fifth by Atlanta this season, and the Cubs tied the game in the fifth on David Ross’ RBI single. Chicago starter Jon Lester struck out 10 over seven innings but did not get a decision. He has begun the season with five straight quality starts for the first time in his career but has received just one run of support in 20 1/3 innings at home.
“I liked the way we played, but the eighth inning unraveled on us,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after his team dropped to 5-18. “La Stella hits a double and then all of a sudden the wind changed. Earlier in the game, [La Stella’s double] wouldn’t have gone anywhere. That kind of changed everything and Szczur got the big hit.”
Starter Aaron Blair impressed as he limited the Cubs to one run and two hits over six innings. The young right-hander once again displayed a good mix of offspeed pitches while keeping Chicago’s hitters off balance. After walking two of the first three batters he faced, the Braves rookie retired each of the next 11 batters. The highly-regarded prospect has effectively commanded his offspeed pitches (changeup and curveball) while pitching into the sixth inning in each of his first two career starts.
Before surrendering their fourth grand slam of the season and third within the past eight days, the Braves were unable to take advantage of the bases-loaded threat against Lester in the seventh inning. The threat ended with Nick Markakis’ groundout, but it was quieted when Jace Peterson struck out in a pinch-hit appearance. While carrying 13 pitchers over the past few days, the Braves weakened their bench and consequently been been forced to send Peterson and Kelly Johnson to the plate for pinch-hit opportunities against left-handed pitchers.
“I was hoping we could score a run in the seventh there,” Gonzalez said. “We had nobody out and [Drew Stubbs] at the plate. I was thinking, ‘If he splits a gap here, I’m going to let [Blair] hit,’ because he was that good. But you’ve got a situation where it’s a 1-1 game in the seventh and runs are at a premium.”
Lester has been working on his throws to first, but had a problem in the seventh. The Braves had runners at first and second with nobody out when Erick Aybar bunted toward the pitcher. First baseman Rizzo was charging in, but Lester fielded the ball and didn’t throw. Aybar was safe and the bases were loaded. Maddon went to the mound to remind Lester that he could get out of the mess, and the lefty did by striking out the next two batters before getting Markakis to ground out to Rizzo at first.
“I never had a handle on it,” Lester said. “I fielded it, the ball rattled around in my glove and I reached for it twice and I didn’t have a handle on it and ate it. Believe me or not on that. There’s no point in rushing a throw when I don’t have a handle on the baseball.”
Said Ross: “I’d rather he not make an error. If he does have half a grip or is unsure of himself, then don’t throw it. There are so many ways to get out of it and he did.”
Javier Baez doubled to open the Chicago fifth, the first hit off Blair, and one out later, he scored on Ross’ single to left. Ross now has five RBIs in his past five games. The veteran didn’t record his sixth RBI last season until Aug. 4, and totaled nine in 72 games in 2015 when he batted .176.
Julio Teheran will take the mound when Atlanta and Chicago resume this three-game series on Saturday at 2:20 p.m. CT. Teheran produced his most impressive start of the young season on Monday, when he limited the Red Sox to one run over seven innings.

Nunez Blasts His Fourth Homer of the Season

Sounds7Renato Nunez broke a scoreless tie with a solo shot to left field in the top of the fourth inning to spark a three run inning and the Sounds hung on for a 3-2 win against the Round Rock Express at Dell Diamond on Friday night.

Nunez’s home run in the fourth triggered a two out rally as Matt Olson’s laced a two-run double to right to score Andrew Lambo and Jake Smolinski to put the Sounds up 3-0.

Sounds starter Eric Surkamp was dealing after being optioned earlier in the week by Oakland. The southpaw went seven innings striking out 10 batters and allowed just two hits. Surkamp had four consecutive 1-2-3 innings from the fourth through the seventh innings.

Surkamp found trouble in the eighth inning as Patrick Kivlehan reached on a Chad Pinder error and advanced to second on the errant throw into the Sounds dugout. Round Rock left fielder James Jones singled to center to plate Kivlehan to break up Surkamp’s shut-out.

Ryan Brasier then came on from the bullpen for the Sounds to try to limit the damage. Brasier gave up just two unearned runs that were charged to Surkamp to keep the Sounds on top 3-2 after eight.

J.B Wendelken came on in the ninth inning to shut down any potential Round Rock come back as he struck out the side to preserve the Sounds 3-2 win and notched his first save of the season.

The four-game series continues with game three Saturday night in Round Rock as the Sounds send left-hander Dillon Overton (1-1, 3.05) to face Round Rock right-hander Chad Bell (1-0, 2.13). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The 2016 season is the Sounds’ 19th year in the Pacific Coast League and their second as the Oakland Athletics’ top affiliate. Tickets are available now by calling (615) 690-4487 or by visiting www.nashvillesounds.com.

Red Raider Baseball Gets Walk Off Win on Senior Night

CHS Class of 2016 baseball players(left to right)

CHS Class of 2016 baseball players(left to right) – Bradley King, Gavin Husted, Kohl Young, Wyatt Day, Alan Rob, Zach Duncan and Zach Wise. Not pictured – Deandre Wakefield

A dramatic 2 out walk off single from Davis Green lifted the Red Raider baseball team to a 5 to 4 defeat of Central Magnet on Thursday night at Powers Field. Green’s single capped the second comeback of the game for Coffee County as they scratched out the non-district win on Senior Night.
Trailing by 1 run entering the 6th inning, Noah Anderson smacked his first home run of the year to tie the game entering the 7th. In the 7th, Nathaniel Tate reached base on a fielder’s choice and moved to 3rd on Jacob Langham’s single before being driven in by Green with the winning run.
Tate, who came on as a relief pitcher in the 7th inning picked up the win. Anderson finished the night going 2 for 3 while senior Alan Rob was also 2 for 3 with a pair of singles and 2 RBI. Zach Wise added a double for the Red Raiders.
Coffee County will be off until next week’s District 8AAA baseball tournament. The Raiders match-up and game time will be announced later and Thunder Radio will keep you up to date on the Red Raider’s schedule. Coach David Martin will be a guest on Saturday’s Coffee Coaches Show as he will talk about the upcoming post season. The Coffee Coaches Show is broadcast live every Saturday morning from 10 to 11 at Al White Ford/Lincoln in Manchester.

Tori Bell Homers, Coffee County Falls to Oakland

Tori Bell (Photo by John StClair - JohnStClairPhoto.com)

Tori Bell (Photo by John StClair – JohnStClairPhoto.com)

Oakland scored runs in 4 of their 5 at-bats as they dropped the Coffee County Lady Raider softball team 16 to 5 on Thursday night. The visiting Lady Patriots got off the bus hitting as they belted a pair of home runs as part of their 13 hit assault against the Lady Raiders.
Coffee County was held to a first inning single from Raven Rogers until the 4th inning as Oakland built a 14 to 0 lead. The Lady Raiders rallied in the 4th to plate 2 runs as they opened the inning with a walk and an Oakland error. Katie Rutledge beat out an infield single to load the bases before Rhi Roberson drove home Rogers and Paige Baker had an RBI ground out. In the 5th, a walk and a hit batter put a pair of runners on base ahead of Tori Bell’s monster home run to right center field to give the Lady Raiders some life. Rutledge got another single but was stranded at first as Coffee County was retired to end the game via the mercy rule.
Besides the 3 run home run, Bell reached base on an error and was hit by a pitch to be named the Thunder Radio player of the game. Bell’s home run was her third of the season. Rutledge finished the night going 2 for 2 and Rogers was 1 for 1 with a pair of walks for Coffee County.
Coffee County opens play in the Coffee County Classic on Friday with a 1:15 PM game versus Warren County in front of the CHS student body. The Lady Raiders will also take on Cookeville at 6 PM and Creek Wood at 7:30. All 3 of those games will be held at Terry Floyd Field and will be broadcast on Thunder Radio. Coffee County concludes play in the tournament on Saturday. Tournament games will be held at Dave King Park and Terry Floyd Field.
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Westwood Baseball Season Comes to Close in Conference Tournament

Westwood's Jacob Garms (file photo)

Westwood’s Jacob Garms (file photo)

The Westwood Rockets baseball season came to a close on Thursday night as they dropped a 6 to 2 decision to the Vikings of Community in the opening round of the Duck River Valley Conference tournament. The game, held at Unionville, brought to a close the season for first year head coach Josh Morris who inherited a winless team from last season.
The Rockets had trouble generating offense on the night as they scattered 8 hits on the night but were forced to settle for single runs in the 1st and 6th innings. In the first, Jacob Garms reached base on a single and came around to score on Dylan Koon’s double. In the 6th inning, Skylar Bratcher got a 1 out double and scored on Nick Smith’s single to give the Rockets their 2 runs.
Garms finished the night going 2 for 4 at the plate with a double while Smith was 2 for 3 with a pair of singles. Zach Milan took the hard luck loss for the Rockets as Community was held to 5 hits. The Vikings did benefit from 9 walks and an error from the Westwood defense.

Westwood and Coffee Middle Golf Teams Fall to Tullahoma

Logan Hale

Logan Hale

The talented and deep Tullahoma Middle School golf teams each got a pair of wins over Coffee County and Westwood on Thursday in a three team middle school golf match at Lakewood Country Club.
In girls’ play, Olivia Lewis shot an 80 and Olivia Howell shot an 81 to lead the Coffee County Middle School team to a 2nd place finish in the meet. Macie Lawrence of Westwood shot a round of 70.
For the boys, Christopher Robinson carded a 50 to lead the Rockets to a 2nd place finish 5 strokes ahead of Coffee County. Nicholas Johnson had a 61, Gavin Prater shot a 76 and Andrew Green carded a 78. For the Red Raiders, Logan Hale got around in 57, Larson Meltzer and Xavier Bartley each had a 69 and Isaac Pauley shot a 75.
The Westwood and Coffee Middle golf teams return home on Monday when they will host Liberty and Harris at Willowbrook. Tee Time is set for 4 PM.

Markakis, Mallex lead Braves to Snap Skid

Braves3The Braves put together a steady offense against Clay Buchholz and salvaged the finale of a four-game series with the Red Sox by pulling out a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park on Thursday night. The win snapped an eight-game losing skid for Atlanta.

After Boston scored one in the first, the Braves rallied for three in the second and led for the rest of the night.
Nick Markakis had four hits and three RBIs from the leadoff spot. Freddie Freeman and No. 9 hitter Mallex Smith added three hits each, with Smith driving in two runs.
Jhoulys Chacin did enough to get the win, going five-plus innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Buchholz took the loss, giving up eight hits and five runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Trailing by a run after the first inning, the Braves sent seven batters to the plate in the second. With one out, four straight batters reached and three scored to take the lead. Jace Peterson started it off with a walk, followed by a bunt single by Erick Aybar, a run-scoring ground-rule double by Smith and a two-run single by Markakis.
With the Red Sox rallying in the bottom of the first, a strange play unfolded. After Dustin Pedroia doubled and Xander Bogaerts walked with one out, David Ortiz hit a grounder to first, and Freeman threw to second for the force, where shortstop Aybar was covering. However, the throw pulled Aybar off the bag, and second-base umpire (and crew chief) Joe West called Bogaerts safe. However, Bogaerts apparently didn’t realize he was called safe, and Aybar tagged him as he walked off the bag toward the dugout. Hanley Ramirez followed with an RBI single that could have scored two runs if not for the bizarre play.
With two outs, runners on second and third and the Braves leading by three runs in the seventh, left-hander Hunter Cervenka, a 27th-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2008 Draft who made his Major League debut on April 12, came in to face Ortiz for the first time in his career. On the sixth pitch, with a 3-2 count, Cervenka got Ortiz to ground out, ending the threat.
In the top of the sixth, Smith thought he had stolen second base for the Braves. But manager John Farrell challenged the call, and it was overturned after a review that took 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Smith did not maintain contact with the bag throughout his slide, and shortstop Bogaerts tagged him out.
In the top of the eighth, Smith was involved in another challenge play. This time, he was called out trying to steal third. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez challenged, but the call stood after a review of 2 minutes and 42 seconds.
Atlanta opens a three-game set at Wrigley Field on Friday at 3:20 p.m. CT, the first of six meetings between the Braves and Cubs this season. Aaron Blair gets the start after a busy week that saw the right-hander make his Major League debut on Sunday before being named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week for April 18-24 on Monday. On April 19 he earned his third Minors win of the season, going seven scoreless and hitless innings while striking out 10 for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Muncy And Olson Club Homers In Sounds Win

Sounds3Max Muncy blasted a three-run homer and Matt Olson clubbed a solo shot and the Sounds cruised to a 7-3 win over the Round Rock Express Thursday night in game one of the four-game series from Dell Diamond.

Sounds starter Chris Smith picked up his first win pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowed just three runs with only one earned, gave up five hits, and struck out nine falling just one short of tying his career-high 10 strikeouts.

The Sounds wasted no time putting the first run on the board in the top of the first as Chad Pinder sent a sac fly to right to score Joey Wendle, who tripled to center to lead-off the game, and the Sounds led 1-0.

Round Rock responded with a run of their own in the bottom half to tie the game at 1-1-. Round Rock’s left fielder Justin Ruggiano singled to left to score Jared Hoying.

Nashville retook the lead in the top of the second inning when Rangel Ravelo grounded out to second to score Andrew Lambo and the Sounds led 2-1 after two.

Nashville’s bats would come alive in the fifth inning as Muncy put the finishing touches on a four run inning for the Sounds with a three-run home run to deep right field to put the Sounds up 6-1 going into the bottom of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Hoying answered with a two-run home run to cut the Sounds lead in half, 6-3.

Olson then clubbed his third homer of the year in the top of the eighth inning to push the Sounds lead to 7-3.

The Sounds held on to take game one 7-3 as Daniel Coulombe, Tucker Healy, and J.B Wendelken came out of the bullpen to shut down the Round Rock bats as the Express managed just two hits in the final 3 1/3 innings.

The series will continue on Friday with left-hander Eric Surkamp (0-0, 0.00) taking the mound for the Sounds and the Express will send right-hander Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.63). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

CHS Baseball Falls to Tullahoma on Wednesday Night

Nathaniel Tate

Nathaniel Tate

Wednesday night’s baseball game between Tullahoma and Coffee County was moved up from a 6 PM start to 5 PM in an attempt to avoid the threat of rain.  The one storm the Red Raiders did NOT want to see took place in the 6th inning when the visiting Wildcats plated 6 runs to lift them to a 10 to 4 win and a season sweep of Coffee County.

The Raiders took an early lead in the game when Nathaniel Tate singled and ended up scoring on a double steal in the 2nd inning to give the Raiders a 1 to 0 lead.  Tullahoma took their 1st lead of the game with 3 runs in the top of the 3rd inning only to see the Raiders battle back and tie the game in the 4th inning at 4.

This set up a frustrating 6th inning for Coffee County as Tullahoma sent 10 hitters to the plate, scoring 6 runs on 4 hits with a walk and a pair of Red Raider errors adding an assist.  Levi Turner had the big blast as he drilled a 3 run homer to right field to give the Wildcats a lead they would not surrender.  The Raiders got base runners on in the 6th and 7th innings but could not mount a scoring challenge.

Coffee County outhit Tullahoma 9 to 7 but errors, once again proved. costly as the Raiders committed 6 errors in the game leading to 4 unearned runs.  Darrin Keller for the Wildcats pitched a complete game for Tullahoma to earn the win while Davis Green for Coffee County was saddled with the loss.

Tate led the Raiders in hitting as he had a single and a double and scored twice.  For his efforts, Tate was named the Thunder Radio player of the game.  Alan Rob and Zach Wise each added RBI singles for Coffee County.

The Raiders are back at home on Thursday night when they play host to Central Magnet School out of Murfreesboro in the final regular season home game of the year.  First pitch is set for 5:30 PM as the game has been designated as Senior Night.  The class of 2016 seniors will be honored and recognized in a pregame ceremony at Powers Field.  The District 8AAA tournament is set to get underway next week, Thunder Radio will keep you apprised of the Red Raiders schedule.

 

Preds Victorious in Game Seven, Advance to Second Round

Pete Weber’s Postgame Report

The victorious Predators celebrate with goalie Pekka Rinne following Wednesday night's win over Anaheim[Photo courtesy of the Nashville Predators]

The victorious Predators celebrate with goalie Pekka Rinne following Wednesday night’s win over Anaheim[Photo courtesy of the Nashville Predators]

For the first time since 2012, the Nashville Predators are going to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Preds went into Anaheim on Wednesday night in their first Game Seven in franchise history and beat the Ducks 2-1 to win their Western Conference Round One series 4-3. With the victory, the Preds will face the San Jose Sharks in Round Two, beginning on Friday night in California (9:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBCSN). Nashville will begin to worry about their next opponent soon, but the Game Seven triumph was something worth celebrating first.

“It’s a big step,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette, who is now 5-1 all-time in Game Sevens as a coach, said of the victory. “I feel that if you can’t take this one step, you can’t take any more steps. That makes it a really big win for our guys and for our team. When you’re faced with these situations, you’re either going home or continuing to fight for the Cup. It was a big night.”

Nashville got the ever-important first goal, when Colin Wilson made his way through the Ducks zone and got in alone on Frederik Andersen, where he deked and roofed a backhander past the Anaheim netminder for a 1-0 lead at 6:19. Then, Paul Gaustad got his stick on a Shea Weber point shot and deflected a puck into the cage for his first of the postseason and a 2-0 advantage at 15:53, a score that held steady through the end of the first frame.

A scoreless second period led into an Anaheim goal on the power play early in the third by Ryan Kesler to cut the Nashville lead to one. But from then on, goaltender Pekka Rinne and the Preds continued to deny the Ducks, with Rinne making 14 saves in the third period alone.

“He was really good,” Laviolette said of Rinne. “If you think that you need four wins to get out, and if you think about the four wins, you could consider him one of the best players on the ice. He was outstanding. He looked solid to me. He looked from the start tonight that he was right on top of his game.”

“You try to stay calm when you start thinking about Game Seven before the game,” said Rinne, who was playing in his first Game Seven. “You think about it and get a little bit nervous before the game, so you just try and stay calm. But getting the first couple shots and making good saves, you start feeling it and gaining some confidence.”

The Preds also defended admirably in front of their goaltender, blocking 24 shots on the night, continually sacrificing whatever it took to preserve the lead as the time ticked away.

“Every guy just had to do their job, and it was a big team effort,” forward James Neal said. “It starts with Peks. Peks made big save after big save at the right times, and timely goals; [Wilson] buries a huge one and then [Gaustad] gets a big one from being in front on a great tip. This group of guys, everybody is all in and we’re doing everything to win games. That makes it that much better to win.”

The victory is important not only for the current team, but the franchise as a whole, winning their first Game Seven appearance in club history. Even after losing Games Three, Four and Five to the Ducks, the Preds never lost belief in their locker room of what they were capable of accomplishing. That belief came full circle on Wednesday in Orange County.

“We get a chance to play again, and I think that’s all you can ask for is another chance,” forward James Neal said. “Start Game One in San Jose and work from there, but no guy wanted to be done playing hockey. We had a belief in this room that we could win this series and we did, so it feels really good because no one picked us to win this series. Every guy went out and battled and did it, so it’s great.”

The Sharks are up next for the Preds, another monumental challenge on the California coast. But the experience gained over the last two weeks can only help a team that has no plans on slowing down as the spring continues.

“Everybody is really happy right now, and we wanted it so bad,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “It’s definitely special winning a series in Game Seven. The Ducks are a great team, and it was a really tough series, but we’re just happy right now. We don’t have much time though, we start Round Two on Friday, so we have to enjoy this tonight and get ready tomorrow.”

The series with the Sharks begins on Friday night at 9 PM CT in San Jose. Thunder Radio will bring you coverage of that game on the Fifth Third Bank/Nashville Predators Radio Network following our coverage of Lady Raider Softball.

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