By Michael Lindsay
The Upperman Bees started the TSSAA Class 3A baseball tournament on the right foot Tuesday afternoon as they defeated South Gibson in the opening round, 8-3.
“I thought we came out ready to play,” said Upperman head coach Wes Shanks. “We had our 1 and 2 guys going back-to-back doubles to put a run across the board. If you can score first, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
The Bees held an 8-0 advantage in the middle of the sixth inning before a rain delay halted play for approximately 30 minutes.
Mr. Baseball winner Eli Huddleston picked up the win on the mound Tuesday as he went 5 and 1/3 innings with 4 strikeouts while surrendering only 2 hits and 2 runs.
“#24 was pinpoint on the mound today,” Shanks said. “It’s unfortunate how things turned out; he was rolling and had a great game going before Mother Nature threw in a rain shower.”
Upperman racked up 14 hits in the victory as Justin Fallon led the Bees at the plate by going 4-5 with 4 runs scored and 2 doubles. Caden Shanks went 3-4 with 5 RBIs and 3 doubles.
“Our boys handled it well,” Shanks said. “It helps with how well we were at the dish offensively. We put their Tennessee Tech signee’s back against the wall with hit after hit. That’s what allowed us to play a little more relaxed.”
Upperman scored early and often as the Bees opened the top of the first inning with two runs and another in the top of the second to take a 3-0 lead.
The Bees opened the flood gates in the top of the fourth inning as they scored 4 runs off back-to-back doubles from Caden Shanks and Eli Huddleston drove in 3 runs to take a 7-0 lead.
A Huddleston single in the top of the sixth inning scored Justin Fallon to put the Bees ahead 8-0 before inclement weather delayed the contest.
South Gibson came out of the weather delay hot as they scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut Upperman’s lead to 8-2. South Gibson tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh before Fallon shut the door on the Hornets to secure the 8-3 victory.
The Bees will be in action again Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. as they face the winner of Tennessee High School and Dyer County at Blackman High School.