By Rick Sheek
Team KFC may not be the baseball powerhouse of old, but it certainly wrapped up the Cal Ripken League regular season in an impressive manner.
On Tuesday evening at T.J. Burleson Memorial Field, KFC ambushed Athlete’s Choice 12-3. The teams will meet again next Tuesday night at 7:30 in the first round of the league tournament.
Tuesday’s decision knocked Athlete’s Choice down to the No. 4 seed. KFC was already assured of fifth.
Unicoi County is the top seed and Beef O’ Brady’s is second. Burgie Drugs claimed third place.
KFC’s John-Wesley Hardin lasted 6 1/3 innings until reaching the 95-pitch limit. He was touched for three hits and one earned run, while striking out 11, walking two with a wild pitch and hit batter.
KFC’s Cameron Coleman batted 2 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs.
Eric Wilson was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and three runs.
Christopher Taylor drove in two runs. Tanner Marshall was 2 for 3 and Hardin went 2 for 4 with two runs.
Marshall also closed on the mound. He walked two and hurled two wild pitches. KFC’s Jacob Vicchia stole two bases.
Choice’s Landon Morefield batted 2 for 3. Will Hampton recorded two steals.
Ryan Whetzel fired two innings for Athlete’s Choice. He allowed three hits, three earned runs, fanned four, walked two with two wild pitches and a hit batter.
Morefield was on the mound for 1 2/3 innings of middle relief. He yielded a hit and an earned run, struck out three and walked three with a wild pitch.
Eric Perkins finished out the final 2 1/3 innings. He surrendured five hits, five earned runs, fanned four and walked two.
KFC surged to a 3-0 advantage in the first inning. Coleman belted a run-scoring double, Hardin delivered a run-scoring single and a run crossed on a wild pitch.
The bottom half of that inning saw Morefield unleash a run-scoring double, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Athlete’s Choice left the bases juiced in the second inning.
Wilson led off the third with a double. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball as KFC extended its cushion to 4-1.
KFC baserunners were plated on a wild pitch and passed ball in the fourth. Another runner crossed on an error, three were stranded and the KFC held a 7-1 advantage.
In the bottom half of that inning, Caden Ward stole home for Athlete’s Choice. He led off the side with a double.
Taylor ripped a two-run single in the fifth, pushing the margin to 9-2. Hardin and Marshall had led off with singles.
A passed ball in the bottom half allowed Athlete’s Choice to crawl within 9-3.
Wilson tagged a run-scoring single in the sixth. Coleman then bashed a a two-run homer over the center field fence to complete the onslaught.
Athlete’s Choice then stranded three runners as the affair ended.
A fund-raising tournament, featuring more than a dozen teams, will be held Friday and Saturday at Burleson Field.