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REGION BASEBALL: Raiders lose lead, game in region opener

Nate Rutledge celebrates after hitting a double against Walker Valley Friday, May 12, 2023. -- Photo by Holly Peterson,, THUNDER RADIO WMSR

Coffee County had the lead in the fifth inning and its ace on the mound.

But the ending didn’t go as scripted for the Raiders.

Walker Valley erased a 3-0 deficit, eventually beating the Red Raiders 5-4 in nine innings in the opening game of the Region 3-4A tournament Friday night at Bradley Central High School.

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Trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth, Dayne Crosslin doubled down the third base line to put the potential tying run in scoring position and the winning run at the plate for the Raiders. But Walker Valley pitcher Chipper Franks got a strikeout and a ground out to end the game.

The Raiders actually had to scrape together a 7th inning rally to get to extra innings. Trailing 4-3 with 2 outs and 2 strikes, Cole Pippenger blooped a single into right field to score Jayden Fellers and tie the game. Fellers was running for Blake Hillis, who had pinch hit and was hit by a pitch.

Early on the game was actually all Coffee County. The Raiders led 3-0 after scoring 2 in the second on a 2-RBI single by Brendon Sheppard and the Raiders got another run in the third. But Coffee County had the bases loaded with no outs in the third and managed just the one run.

Walker Valley made them pay with a 4 run 5th to take the lead. The Mustangs benefited from 4 Raider errors in the inning, then got 2 across on a 2 RBI double by Michael Pledge.

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The Mustangs took the lead again in the top of the 9th on another error – a throw away on a potential double play ball.

Aiden Robertson went 6 innings for the Raiders and struck out 12, allowing 4 unearned and walking 4. Timothy Henderson is tagged with the loss in relief. Henderson pitched 3 innings and allowed 1 unearned run.

THIS GAME WAS BROADCAST LIVE ON THUNDER RADIO. CLICK HERE FOR THE BROADCAST REPLAY.

The Raiders will now play at 1 p.m. Central Saturday in an elimination game against Shelbyville Central – a team CHS beat by 1 in the District 6-4A championship last Sunday. Coffee County must win that game and then turn around and beat the winner of Walker Valley and Bradley Central to advance past the region to the sectional.

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If the Raiders win the first game against Shelbyville and are set to play Walker Valley again, the game will be at 4 p.m. central Saturday. If they are to play Bradley Central, the game will be pushed to 1 p.m. central Sunday due to Bradley Central graduation. All games are at Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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