Bulldogs bite back in thrilling fashion to best Sullivan North

Published 11:30 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2021

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
JONESBOROUGH- A cool Tuesday evening in Jonesborough set the stage for a do or die matchup in the District 1-A tournament as the Hampton Bulldogs faced off with the Sullivan North Golden Raiders.

Both teams knew it was a must-win, with the winner set to battle University High on Wednesday, and both teams played like it. Neither team relented as the game went down to the final at-bat, but the Bulldogs would come from behind late to win, 7-6.

The Bulldogs would try and jump out to an early lead, and that’s exactly what they did.

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An error-aided double from Morgan Lyons put Hampton in scoring position early. A walk would put Conor Jones on for the Bulldogs, giving them runners on the corners. That’s when Josh Owens would dribble one back to the pitcher that would score a run and the Bulldogs would take the 1-0 lead.

Caleb Royston started on the hill for the Bulldogs and he found some struggles early with a hit batter as well as allowing a couple of hits. He would find his stride, but not before the Golden Knights could level the game at 1-1.

Collin Morgan got the inning off to a hot start doubling into right before a sacrifice fly from Brody Hicks would put Hampton back up 2-1.

Royston would continue his momentum on the mound and heading into the third inning, a very tight ballgame was playing out.

A silent half from Hampton led the way for a tough inning for Royston who couldn’t find the zone hitting a couple of batters and allowing a pair of hits.

His time would be up on the evening and the Bulldogs turned to Josh Whitson who closed the inning out strong. The inning ended knotted at 2-2.

A dead fourth inning from the clubs set the stage for the grand finale these two had planned out for the last three innings.

The Bulldogs would go back ahead with Chance Point finding a single on an infield hit before eventually being driven in by Lyons on another hard-to-handle infield hit.

Sullivan North immediately answered back and things were all square again heading to the sixth.

A single from Royston placed runners on the corners for the Bulldogs early in the inning and just like that, they were threatening.

McKinley Kuhn laid down a sacrifice bunt that would cause all sorts of problems for the Raiders and a couple of poor decisions later, Hampton once again led, now by two runs.

Sullivan North rallied, however, and start scoring runs at will in the bottom half of the inning.

The Bulldogs couldn’t find their footing defensively and some costly mistakes put them behind, 6-5.

A surprise move to bring in Josh Owens on the mound would pay off big time for the Bulldogs as he would close out the inning.

Knowing they had to find runs or go home, the Bulldogs made the seventh inning all theirs.

Point led off with a single before Lyons would smack a ball deep for a double scoring Point and leveling the game once again.

The winning run for Hampton came in the form of an Owens grounder that caused a fielder’s choice to score the go-ahead run.

Owens closed things out on the mound, and the Bulldogs would survive and advance.