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Blazers end Crockett’s season in conference tournament

After finishing the regular season ranked fourth and fifth in the Big 8, the Blazers of Daniel Boone High School and Pioneers of David Crockett High School punched their tickets to the district tournament with the two rivals opening the first round head-to-head on the diamond against one another.
If the conference’s biggest rivalry needed any more emphasis in a game, the opening round matchup served as an eliminator for the losing squad of the bout.
Despite a late season surge by the Pioneers, the Blazers were able to retain the higher conference ranking despite what some might call an end-of-season collapse.
With both teams sending two of their top pitchers to the mound in the May 5 game, a pitching duel emerged with the Blazers outlasting the Pioneers 2-1.
Crockett sent Matt Jackson to the mound and the Blazers pegged Cory Jenkins as their starter.
The Blazers entered the game looking for the season sweep over their rival and trying to advance to the tournament’s second round for the first time since 2007.
In the confines of Tod Houston Field at Tennessee High, the Blazers pushed a run across the plate in the home half of the first inning to go ahead 1-0 following a Taylor Smith single that allowed Daniel Cox to score.
Jenkins was superb for the Blazers, working through six innings while striking out four and allowing just one unearned run in the fourth inning after a Blazer error.
The run knotted the score at 1-1.
Crockett’s Jackson was nearly as good allowing his only earned run in the first inning.
With the score tied, Jenkins issued a walk to the first batter he faced in the seventh inning.
With Crockett threatening to take the lead, Boone elected to replace Jenkins with Cox. Kohl Tarlton moved the runner into scoring position and Crockett put another runner on base a batter later when Chad Smith collected his second hit of the day on an infield single.
But the next batter grounded into a double-play to send the game to the bottom of the seventh still tied 1-1.
Boone’s Landon Jenkins led off the side with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.
With just one out, Jackson issued a walk to Trey Combest to put two on.
Crockett freshman Isaac Barkley, playing in place of injured shortstop Joe Ganger, held the Boone runner after perfectly fielding a Cox grounder and tagging second to get the out.
But the freshman couldn’t make his second stellar play of the inning as a Zach Hancock ground ball got by him to score the winning run.
The 2-1 win gave the Blazers win number 20 on the year, ending Crockett’s season on a 17-14 overall record.
The Blazers returned to action a day later against top seeded Science Hill with Jake Littleton getting his opportunity on the mound.
Hancock gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead after four innings, driving in a run in the second and fourth inning.
Littleton was stellar in the start, but Boone errors late in the game helped Science Hill score three runs in the fifth and sixth inning to take the lead.
The Blazers sent the game to the home half of the seventh pushing a run across the plate in the top of the inning, but the Hilltoppers scored in their final at bat of the day to capture the 4-3 win.
The Blazers faced elimination on May 7 against Sullivan South.
A win in the contest, meant they will play against the loser of Monday’s contest between Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett for a chance to advance to the regional round.
Look for coverage in next week’s Herald & Tribune.