STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Upperman Falls In Pitchers Duel To Greeneville

by Rusty Ellis

Coverage of Spring Fling is presented by Steel Technologies

The Upperman Bees fought to their last out, but fell just short in their quest to repeat as Class AAA State Champions in their 1-0 loss to Greeneville on Friday evening.

The Devils got on the board with the game’s lone run, as a wild pitch scored a runner from second for the 1-0 lead in the first inning.

From there, Eli Huddleston and Carson Quillen settled in to a dynamic pitchers duel, as Huddleston went six innings with just the lone earned run given up and seven strikeouts.

The Bees did manage to threaten in the top of the seventh, as a one-out single by Huddleston and an error on a ball hit by Tyler Jared put runners on second and third with just one out.

Julian Llano lined into a double play for the last two outs however, as the Greene Devils earned the state title with a 1-0 victory over the Bees.

It wasn’t the desired outcome for the Bees, who had all intentions to repeat as the Class AAA Champions, but head coach Wes Shanks says he was proud of how his team played in another classic, as he called it.

“I feel like we’re having these every game, and that’s a testament to this team,” Shanks said. “It doesn’t matter who we play, this team is going to bring it, and they haven’t just brought it this year, but this same group did last year as well…even when we had one instance where the ball didn’t bounce our way, we still had a chance with two on in the seventh and that’s all you can ask for.”

The Bees battled down to their last outs, and that’s nothing new for Shanks.

“Their mentality is ‘we’ve got outs remaining, we have opportunities to win ballgames,'” Shanks said. “Even though it was an intense ballgame, it felt like 35 minutes and that’s what you get when you’ve got two great pitchers out there…I feel like they’ve taken some of my demeanor a little bit as far as cool, calm and collected.”

It’s the final game for the seniors in an Upperman jersey, and while it didn’t end the way they wanted, Shanks said they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished.

“This is a tough moment that’s going to sting for bit, but this is the group that went through Covid,” Shanks said. “You’ve got to remember what they went through…we won a state title with that group, and then made it back with that group. Every coach in the state knows how hard that is to make it here once. I’m blessed and proud to be the Upperman baseball coach.”