by Rusty Ellis
Coverage of the Spring Fling is presented by Steel Technologies
The Upperman Bees came back from a 6-0 deficit and took down Tennessee 8-6 on Wednesday night in a win-or-go home game in the Class AAA State Tounament.
Upperman first matched up with Dyer County, as they fell in a walk-off classic 8-7 to move into the Losers Bracket for their matchup with the Vikings.
Early on, it appeared as thought Tennessee might run away with the game, as they took a 6-0 lead off Braden Williams into the bottom of the third inning.
Something in the Bees flipped a switch however, as they plated five runs on the strength of two wild pitches and RBI singles from Julian Llano, Ty Stanton and Rookie Allison. This got Upperman right back into the contest, making the score 6-5.
Junior shortstop Caden Shanks delivered the big hit in the fourth inning, as he belted a two-run home run over the right-field fence to give the Bees a 7-6 lead. Three batters later, Llano gave Upperman some insurance with an RBI single to make the score 8-6.
From there, Williams settled in on the mound and delivered three more scoreless innings to clinch the 8-6 win and keep Upperman’s season alive.
For head coach Wes Shanks, he says he saw a desire to keep the season alive power them through in the third inning, and everything just snowballed from there.
“We have come into this postseason feeling like we are one of the best teams in the state,” Shanks said. “The difference is, you have to play like it…there’s all sorts of scenarios in (postseason play), and we just came off of an instant classic and it just didn’t go our way. The key players in postseason time are the ones that help you win ballgames.”
Shanks admitted he didn’t have his best stuff in game one, but he made it a point to help lead the team when they needed him most, as he’s done all season. And while he didn’t know if the home run was out, he knew he got a lot of it.
“I had to come back and help show them what Upperman is all about in the second game,” Shanks said. “I thought it was just a pop-fly, but the wind carried it out…the guys in the dugout were just hyped, I was definitely hyped too.”
What Upperman showed on Wednesday night was that even if their season is in jeopardy, they’re going to go down fighting like all championship-caliber teams do.
“We’re definitely never going to give up,” Shanks said. “No matter how much we’re down in the ballgame, we’re not the type of guys to ever give up.”
Upperman will now advance to Thursday, where they will take on Dyer County in a rematch at 2 P.M. If the Bees win, they’ll play another game at 4:30 P.M.
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