Tennessee road trip provides four victories for North Bullitt

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By Mike Farner

HEBRON ESTATES - A spring break trip to the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains turned out to be a positive adventure for the North Bullitt Eagles last week as coach Brian Wise’s team won four of five games.

That action left the team with a 5-3 mark after the first two weeks of the regular season.

“We were promised five games in four days and we got that in,” Wise said on Monday. “It was a good thing for us to get all the games in. All-in-all, it was a successful week.”

The Eagles were not playing in a tournament, but just played games against teams in the area at a small baseball facility. This was not the first time that the Eagles had made a spring break trip to eastern Tennessee, staying in Morristown and traveling to the Jefferson County area.

Three of the games turned out to be against the same team, Seymour. All the games were close with North Bullitt winning two of the three.

“It ended up being good because they were a good team and were on our level,” Wise pointed out. “We were competitive.”

The week actually started on Wednesday when the Eagles took on Grainger County, Tennessee. Neither team managed a hit through the first four innings as the game moved along quickly. The local team scored single runs in both the sixth and seventh innings before North Bullitt rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh for the victory.

The lone scoring inning for the Eagles started when Dallas May raced all the way to second when his fly ball was dropped in right field. North Bullitt then got its first hit of the game when Doug Yates singled. Tyler Estep then doubled to plate the first two runs for the Eagles.

North Bullitt then got a walk to Adam Zierten before an out. Travis Ridley then walked to load the bases. That brought Kiefer Smith to the plate and the very first pitch to the senior skipped into the dirt and past the catcher. Estep was off quickly and barely beat the tag at the plate.

Zierten was the winning pitcher as he worked all seven innings. He allowed just five hits and struck out four. Both of the runs were earned.

That led into a three-game series against Seymour. The first two games were played at the private baseball complex and then learning that North Bullitt needed another game the next day, Seymour invited them to their own field for the third game.

The first game in the series went to North Bullitt by an 11-4 count in a game that was stopped after six innings by a time limit.

Matt Wagner was the winning pitcher for the Eagles as he worked an entire game. He allowed four hits and none of the runs was earned as Wagner struck out six and walked six.

North Bullitt made two key errors that allowed Seymour to take a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning. The Eagles then responded with nine runs in the sixth inning to put the game away.

Estep had a big game with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Carter Sibley added a triple to the offense as he had two hits. The green and gold also got three hits from Zirten and two from Ridley.

The second game that day went five innings before it was stopped because of darkness with North Bullitt ahead 9-7.

Sibley was the winning pitcher in this game as he worked all five frames. Only two of the runs were earned. The senior allowed seven hits with eight strike-outs and four walks.

North Bullitt’s offense, which had a 6-1 lead at one point, finished with eight hits. Sibley had a double while Yates had two hits.

A day later, the Eagles went to Seymour and played at the best facility they saw all week just on the outskirts of Pigeon Forge.

This time, the host team got a 6-4 victory. North Bullitt was up 4-2 before Seymour scored four times in the bottom of the sixth.

May was the starting pitcher for the Eagles and worked into the sixth inning. Four of the six runs that he allowed were earned. Seymour had seven hits and walked four times.

Ridley came in and got the last two outs.

North Bullitt’s offense collected ten hits but those were all singles. Three of the hits came off the bat of Zierten while Sibley and Kiefer Smith each had two hits.

The final game of the week for the Eagles was against Morristown East and the Eagles pulled away late for a 12-3 victory.

“They were a young team and we felt like we should beat them,” Wise said. “It took a while, but we did.”

Senior Cody Adkins got the start in this game, his first varsity start and he worked a complete game, allowing only three hits and one earned run. He struck out eight and walked just one, but did hit three batters.

North Bullitt, which blew the game open with six runs in the sixth inning, finished with 11 hits. Zierten had a pair of doubles and the Eagles also got doubles from Jordan Mayberry and Smith. Sean Taylor and Smith each had two hits.

Other than a few too many errors, Wise was pleased with the week of games.

“We had more than we should have for a senior dominated line-up,” the coach said. “That’s something we didn’t do in the pre-season. To some degree it was the playing conditions. We played literally in mud the first day.

“We have to get better in that regard,” Wise said of the defense. “We can’t beat teams like Pleasure Ridge Park and Trinity and Bullitt East making those type of errors.”

At 5-3 North Bullitt has built confidence at the start.

“It’s a good start,” Wise concluded. “It’s respectable. Our losses have been to good teams. We haven’t tanked any game or lost to people we should have beaten. It’s a good start.”

The Eagles have a key game on Wednesday this week at home against Bullitt Central and then the team will be away from home the rest of the week.