Bojangles tried to charge, but Nathaniel Townsend stood in the way.
The Countertop Masters’ center fielder made up from a costly sixth-inning error with a leaping SportsCenter catch to help his team hold off Bojangles 6-4 in a tight, come-from-behind win in Thursday’s Babe Ruth play at Elizabethton High School.
Stone Hutchinson pitched the complete game for the win, striking out 12 while allowing just seven hits for the victors, who took advantage of a limited amount of bases on the offensive side.
“Stone pitched good and Nathaniel made a big play out there in the outfield for us,” said Countertop Masters coach Greg VanTassell. “He had an error the inning before that cost us a run, but he was right back out there ready to play. He made a big play at the end of the game for us.
“We had too many strikeouts overall, but their pitchers are good and you can’t take anything away from them. They threw hard and some of the boys were a little bit behind on some of those pitches. We fought, we stole bases and Stone kept us in the game. We were aggressive and that’s what I’m trying to preach to them.”
Bojangles took an early first inning lead, but Countertop Masters battled back to tie it in the third and went ahead with a two-run fourth inning.
Bojangles pulled within one run in the fifth, then took control of the game with a two-run sixth keyed by a run from an error and an RBI triple off the bat of Lucas Hurley.
Countertop Masters made the most of their final at-bat, placing runners on base in the top of the seventh for David Finney, who tied the game at 4-all with an RBI double.
Dylan Suiter followed suit with an RBI single to put the blue and white ahead, then took advantage of a run-down situation between first and second with an easy jaunt across the plate to make it 6-4.
Bojangles had a runner in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Townsend reeled off his big grab to give his team a win in its season opener.
Offensively, Nate Perry was 2-for-2 with a run scored while Finney was 2-for-4 with a run and RBI for the winning squad. Jerry Lunsford also reached base four times for the team (3 BB, 1 HBP) with two runs scored.
Bojangles was paced by a 3-for-3 effort from Cameron Miller, who hit a double with two runs scored. Lucas Hurley drove Miller across the plate twice on a 2-for-3 game with a triple and double, while Chris Cifer added an RBI single.
Unicoi (0-3) did its best to make a game of it, but a big eight-run second inning from the Piney Bluff squad sponsored by Pardners was enough to seal a victory in its debut game.
The Devils went through five pitching changes in seven innings, while Pardners made four swaps over the course of the nightcap.
Walks, hit batters and errors keyed most of the base-running opportunities for each squad.
Unicoi jumped out to a quick lead when Colton Myers walked and touched home plate on a passed ball. Tyler White upped the ante for Pardners with a two-run single to give the barbeque boys the lead.
It got worse for the Devils in the second, five consecutive walks to Pardners batters placed two runs across. After an Alex McCracken RBI single, Ben Pritchard scored on an errant throw and Mitchell Snapp offered an RBI single.
A sacrifice fly from Tyler White plated a run, then Snapp scored on a passed ball to wrap the eight-run frame.
A double and error from the bat of Colton Myers plated two runs for the Devils in the third, then Justin Nelson cleared the bases with a three-run triple in the fourth.
But Pardners added one run in the third and fourth and Unicoi was only able to manage one additional run over the final three innings.
Offensively, McCracken was 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and two RBI for Pardners, who totaled four hits overall with 12 walks and a hit batter at the plate.
Unicoi was led by a 2-for-3 effort from Nelson, while combining for five hits and nine walks at the plate. Austin Huskins reached base three times, all after being struck by a pitch.
The Babe Ruth league continues play this weekend.