PULASKI — Chatham coach Chad Anderson and his staff have stressed to their guys all season that nervousness comes from being unprepared.
Chatham showed it doesn’t get nervous and is always prepared as it scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a 11-7 defeat of Stuarts Draft in the Class 2 semifinals Thursday evening at Calfee Park.
The Cavaliers advance to play Lebanon today in the Class 2 state championship game at Calfee Park. First pitch is slated for noon.
With just six outs left and facing a 7-6 deficit, the Cavaliers got down to business in the bottom of the sixth.
Graham Dalton kicked off the rally with a leadoff single, and Grayson Reed wasted no time bringing him around, smashing a triple to left-center field that bounced off the top of the fence and knotted the score at 7-all.
It was Matthew Arnold’s turn next, as he smacked a run-scoring base hit to center that put the Cavs back in front. Brae Adkins kept things going with a double to left, and Andrew Potojecki brought Arnold and Adkins around when he smacked a double that bounced off the fence in right-center field. Hunter Adkins came around to score on a Cougars’ throwing error that gave Chatham an 11-7 advantage heading into the final frame.
Before the Cavaliers’ rally, though, Stuarts Draft also had to climb out of a hole to build its lead.
Facing a 4-1 deficit heading into the middle frames, Stuarts Draft tallied five runs to take a brief lead. Arie Gutt’s bases-loaded walk cut the Cougars’ deficit to two, and Mark Rodgers pulled his team within one on his sacrifice fly to left. Skyler Saunders’ run-scoring single to left knotted the score at 4-all, and Dawson Jones put the Cougars back in front with his RBI single to short. Trip Christian rounded out the rally with a run-scoring base knock to left-center field that made it a 6-4 contest in the top of the fifth.
Keeping with the words of its coaches, Chatham knew it was prepared and showed no signs of nervousness, scoring a pair of runs to knot the score. Hunter Adkins brought a run around with his RBI on a fielder’s choice, and Jacob Miller knotted the score at 6 with fielder’s choice back to short.
The Cougars fought back, though, tacking on a run in the top of the sixth to take a one-run edge heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Chatham’s sophomore ace Christian Lancaster got the start, markingthe second straight year the Cavaliers coaching staff sent him to mound to start a state semifinal game. Lancaster retired eight of the first nine batters he faced.
Stuarts Draft starter Christian was just as effective, setting down six of the first eight batters he faced while striking out three, and the result was a scoreless tie after two full innings.
The Cougars found some momentum in the third with two outs to grab an early advantage. A pair of hit by pitches put runners in scoring position for Stuarts Draft, and a wild pitch broke the scoreless tie and gave the Cougars an early 1-0 edge.
Chatham’s offense rewarded Lancaster’s performance with a four-run rally in the bottom of the third. Miller and Reynolds each reached on a single to left-center and a walk, respectively, to start the frame, and Dalton loaded the bases with when he bunted and reached fielder’s choice.
Reed tied the game the hard way when he took a pitch in the back with the bases loaded, and Arnold’s sacrifice fly to center gave Chatham its first lead of the game at 2-1. Brae Adkins doubled the Cavs’ advantage when he drove a two-run single to center.