Coach Chase Jones and the Yellow Jackets have accomplished something that hasn’t been done since 2004 in going to the state tournament. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Upperman Bees 4-1 in front of a packed stadium full of Grundy fans in the first game of the region tournament to advance to the championship game, guaranteeing them 2 more games.
The Jackets had to travel 2 hours for the championship game to Smith County but that didn’t stop the Grundy faithful from showing up to cheer their team on. Well over half in attendance were there to support Coach Chase Jones and the Yellow Jackets. The game provided plenty of excitement as it was back and forth throughout with the Jackets coming up short losing to the Smith County Owls 12-10 and taking second place in Region 4AA.
The state sectionals game was one the Jackets had to win to advance to the state tournament and a loss would have ended their season. Again, Grundy fans packed the stands to watch their Jackets take a 5-3 win over former district foe Signal Mountain and advance to the AA State Tournament for a shot at the state title.
“To say I am proud of this group of young men would be a drastic understatement,” Coach Jones stated.
“At the end of last season, I felt pretty good coming into this season from what we had returning. However, due to a series of events, we have lost five of the projected starters from the end of last season. Right now we are starting three freshmen, Jaden Ruehling, Alex Killian, and Bailey Hill, each of whom have stepped up and accepted the challenge unbelievably well. Our entire team has stepped up in different ways.
“These guys play out of love and respect for each other and don’t get caught up in making mistakes. They have improved so much on their mental toughness and focusing on the next pitch, regardless of what happened the previous pitch.
“Our seniors have done a remarkable job of leading this team and showing our younger guys the way this game should be played. We are truly going to miss these seniors.
“Blane Harris has been phenomenal on the mound for us and Noah Bean has been a vacuum at shortstop. We had to move Trey Hampton and Jacob Thomas to the outfield and they have done great out there for us.
“I hope that people of Grundy County are paying attention to this group of outstanding young men. They exemplify what happens when you put your differences aside and focus on one cause, and that is the success of each other. If we can get the adults in our county to learn this lesson, there is no telling how successful Grundy County could be.
Jackets 4 – Upperman 1
rundy was on the board first in the first inning after Blane Harris reached on an error and then stole second. A single from Evan Jaynes moved Harris to third. Harris, with lightning speed, was able to slide across home plate on a passed ball for the first run of the game. Harris scored again in the third after he singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jaynes, stole third, and again crossed home on a passed ball. The Upperman Bees scored their only run in the fourth. Jaden Ruehling had a leadoff single in the fifth followed by Harris putting the ball in play to advance Ruehling and reaching on an error. Ruehling scored on a sacrifice fly from Kenzie Hill. Harris scored the Jackets final run off of a single from Trey Hampton. The Jackets held Upperman scoreless for the next two innings for a 5-1 win in their first game of the regionals.
Harris got the win on the mound going the distance, giving up 4 hits, 1 run, and striking out 4.
Jaynes hit 2 for 3. Harris, Bean, Hampton, and Ruehling were all 1 for 3 at the plate. Harris had 2 stolen bases and Bean had 1. Hill and Hampton notched 1 RBI each.
Smith County 12 – Jackets 10
It was an offensive battle between the two teams with Grundy scoring 10 runs off of 14 hits and Smith County scoring 12 runs off of 17 hits. Grundy struck first scoring 3 runs in the first inning and were threatening to score more before a questionable call of runner interference happened to end the inning. The Jackets added another run in the second to take a 4-0 lead. The Owls of Smith County got their bats going in the third inning and scored 5 runs off of 6 hits to take the lead. The Jackets answered in the top of the fourth with 4 runs to regain the lead. The Owls added 3 runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 8-8. The Jackets went ahead in the fifth scoring 1 run. Smith County put 4 runs across the plate in the sixth for a 12-9 lead. Grundy was down to their last bats and came up short only scoring 1 run falling to the Owls 12-10 placing them second in Region 4AA.
Jacob Thomas started on the mound for the Jackets pitching the first 2 innings, giving up 7 hits, 5 runs, and striking out 3. Jayden Marcom took over in the circle pitching the next 2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, and striking out 1. Kenzie Hill suffered the loss pitching the last 2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 4 runs, and striking out 3.
Hill and Noah Bean led at the plate for the Jackets hitting 3 for 5, both with a double and a run scored. Hill had 5 RBIs and Bean had 1. Evan Jaynes and Trey Hampton were 2 for 5. Jaynes scored 3 runs and had a stolen base and Hampton scored 2 runs. Jaden Ruehling hit 2 for 4 with a run scored. Ethan Chouinard was 1 for 3 with a RBI. Marcom had a single and a RBI. Blane Harris scored 2 runs and stole a base.
Jackets 5 – Signal Mnt. 3
Neither team seen too much from their offense in the first three innings as it was a pitching duel between the two starting pitchers. The game was scoreless until Casen King got things started for the Jackets in the fifth inning with a leadoff single. A sacrifice bunt from Evan Jaynes advanced King to second. Blane Harris laid down a bunt that resulted in a bad throw to third that King was able to score on for the first run of the game. Jaden Ruehling singled to right field to score Harris. Kenzie Hill’s hit to the short scored Ruehling giving the Jackets a 3-0 lead. The Eagles of Signal Mountain answered in the bottom of the fifth with 3 runs to tie the game. The Jackets added 2 more runs in the sixth after Jacob Thomas reached on a hit by pitch followed by a single from Jaynes. A single from Harris scored Thomas and Jaynes scored when Noah Bean was walked with the bases loaded. The Jackets held the Eagles scoreless for the rest of the game for the 5-3 win to advance to the AA State Tournament.
Harris went the distance for the Jackets pitching all 7 innings, giving up 8 hits, 3 runs, and striking out 4.
Harris and Ruehling led at the plate hitting 2 for 3, both with a RBI, both scoring a run, and Harris with a stolen base. Trey Hampton was 2 for 4. Bean and King were 1 for 3. Bean had a double and a RBI and King scored a run. Jaynes hit 1 for 2 and scored a run. Alex Killian was 1 for 4. Thomas had a stolen base and scored a run. Hill notched a RBI.
Grundy baseball began play in the AA State Tournament on Tuesday.