Westminster ace Edward Shores was tough to rock in game three – just ask the defending Class 4A state champion Jefferson Dragons.
Shores struck out 11 to lead the Wildcats to a 5-4 series-deciding game three win and eliminate the top-ranked Dragons (25-3, Region 8-3A No. 1 seed) from the Class 3A state playoffs Thursday in Jefferson.
The Davidson-commit pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits in the final game of the best of three series.
The Wildcats (17-13, Region 5-3A No. 4 seed) showed out in the opening inning with four hits, including two RBI singles, one from Will Hallmark and Grant Matzigkeit, to take a 3-0 lead.
Jefferson struggled to answer in the bottom of the first inning but found a groove in the second.
JJ Rapp started the rally with an RBI single that scored Nick Sellars. A strikeout later, Ryan Godfrey crossed the plate on an error and Cole Watkins doubled in Rapp to tie the game, 3-3.
The Wildcats grabbed the lead back the next inning on a wild pitch from Zac Corbin, 4-3.
Shores and the Wildcat defense held the Dragons hitless over the next 3 2/3 innings while adding an insurance run in the top of the seventh, taking a 5-3 advantage.
Jefferson broke the hitless drought in the bottom of the seventh inning with a single from Trey McEver and Cole Watson, then Shores recorded back-to-back strikeouts to stall the potential Dragon rally. But, the Dragons, with two outs and two runners on base, kept fighting when Mason Cooper singled to centerfield scoring McEver and closing the gap to just a one-run deficit.
Westminster subbed in Charlie Wickliffe for Shores to finish the job, which he did. He struck out Godfrey to end the inning. The Dragons left two runners on base.
The Wildcat offense hammered out 11 hits off three Dragon pitchers, five earned runs.
CHEROKEE BLUFF 1
Ringgold blasted 16 runs on 16 hits, including four homeruns, in game three of the series to eliminate the Bears from the Class 3A state playoffs.
Ringgold scored two runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third to take a 5-1 lead.
The fourth inning is when the Tigers blew the game open, scoring 11 runs. Ringgold tripled, doubled, singled twice and ripped two homeruns in the inning.
Chandler Shope scored the Bears' only run in the third inning.
The Tigers (20-10, No. 9 seed) had no problem disposing of Crawford County (15-13, No. 24 seed) Thursday in the first found of the Class A Public playoffs at home.
Commerce scored 31 runs on 27 hits in the doubleheader to win the series.
In game one, Nate Ray picked up the win, allowing six hits and two runs while striking out four in six innings. Landon Davis threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.
Chase Bridges was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, including a homerun.
In game two, Tucker Maloch grabbed the win on the hill, surrendering two runs on three hits and two strikeouts in four innings of work.
Colby Rogers was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Landon Davis, Gray Holbrook, Hayden Hutto, Chandler Martin, Kody Mintz, Nate Ray, Colby Rogers, TJ Trudnak and Jacob Welch all drove in runs in the win.
Commerce will travel to Pelham Thursday. Game time to be announced.