Middle Tennessee Mudcats top Creek Wood
Having posted a 3-0 record in pool play, the Middle Tennessee Mudcats advanced to the championship game of the Rocket Summer Classic by defeating the Creek Wood Red Hawks 3-1 on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals at Forrest High School.
The two teams were locked in a 1-1 tie through the first two innings of play, but Mudcat starting pitcher Ryan Yelensky held Creek Wood scoreless the rest of the way while Middle Tennessee scratched out two more runs to remain undefeated in the tournament.
After watching teammate Tanner Garvin throw a complete game shutout earlier in the day against Perry County, Yelensky provided the Mudcats with another strong performance on the mound, as he yielded just three hits and three walks in seven innings of work to go along with five strikeouts.
"Ryan did a good job. He struggled to find the strike zone early, but he eventually started locating his fastball and then used his breaking ball later in the game," said Middle Tennessee coach Chris Parker. "When he's on, Yelensky is as good as any pitcher we've got."
The Mudcats mustered only five hits against two Red Hawk hurlers to go along with a walk and two Creek Wood errors. Alex Brewer doubled and drove in a run to account for Middle Tennessee's lone extra base hit of the contest, while Logan Hollingsworth (1 RBI), Austin Welty (1 RBI), Yelensky, and Landon Jones all singled.
Red Hawk starting pitcher Will Duke was the tough luck loser on the mound and allowed three runs over five innings on four hits and a walk. Kyle Heggie, James Hammock, and Nash Faught notched one hit apiece for Creek Wood.
Both teams left a man in scoring position in the first inning before the Red Hawks pushed across a run in the top of the second with the help of a hit batsman, a Paul Rahman sacrifice bunt, an infield single by James Hammock, and a Ray Ingham RBI groundout to grab a 1-0 lead.
The Mudcats mounted an immediate response and plated a run in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 1-1. After Blake Leonard drew a one-out walk and Hollingsworth was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out, Welty slapped a RBI single into centerfield to drive in Leonard.
In the bottom of the third, Middle Tennessee plated another run to seize a 2-1 advantage. Austin Harber was hit by a pitch to start the inning before courtesy runner Caleb Keller stole second. Keller then advanced to third on a wild pitch prior to racing home on a Brewer sacrifice fly.
The Mudcats stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the next two innings, but tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to stretch their lead to 3-1. Following a leadoff single by Jones, pinch runner Caleb Keller advanced to third on a pair of groundouts by Sweeney and Leonard before scoring on a Hollingsworth RBI single.
Yelensky then worked around a one-out single by Heggie in the top of the seventh to sew up the win for Middle Tennessee.