CALEDONIA — Heading into the fifth inning on Monday night, Caledonia, behind some early offense, had a comfortable 8-0 lead over Tishomingo County.
All signs pointed toward a potential mercy rule victory, but the Cavaliers went on cruise control, the exact opening the Braves needed to make a run.
From 8-0 down, they had runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the seventh, down just 8-6 at that point, and put Caledonia on the ropes.
However, Ashton Smith shut the door, striking out Dylan Kirk looking to end the game in an 8-6 victory for the Cavs, tipping his cap to the Braves as they walked off the field.
“The fact that we got the win, it gave us a split against Tishomingo,” Caledonia head coach Brad Hamilton said. “It showed a lot of guts by our guys to fight back after Saturday.”
Coming off the back end of a 2-1 loss on the road against Tishomingo County, the Cavaliers (7-4) had some added motivation starting things out and the bats came alive early.
Caledonia scored in each of the first four innings, highlighted by a three-run fourth inning, to storm out in front.
That lead nearly became 11-1 in the bottom of the fifth as Brayden Thrash nearly missed hitting a three-run homer, a ball that was caught at the wall in left field.
The cold conditions didn’t make it easier for hitters, but on a warmer day, the Cavs would have been up 10 runs at that point.
“Moving forward, hopefully, this gives us confidence to keep rolling,” Hamilton said. “The kids have been working. They work hard, they’re gritty, they fight and they’re never out of very much.”
Caledonia’s offense was rolling from the start and so was starting pitcher Zack Gorum, who kept the Braves scoreless through the fourth, giving up three runs, two of them earned.
He went on to strike out eight over his outing, but ran out of steam on the back-end of it, getting as close as a pitch away from getting out of the sixth with the score staying at 8-1.
Having such great offense from the jump allowed Gorum to settle himself down better and start dealing on the mound.
“When you can have confidence in your offense, you can go out there on the mound, relax, do what you need to do and just have fun,” Gorum said.
Timely hitting was a factor in the early-going, but Caledonia took what Tishomingo County was giving it, drawing eight walks in the first four innings on Monday.
Having that substantial of a lead proved to be vital as once Gorum departed, the wheels nearly fell off the bus, especially in the seventh.
Smith had trouble locating the plate and the Braves recorded a few key hits to cut the lead to two.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins with how the later innings of the game went, but the Cavs were still able to escape with a win.
“I wish it wouldn’t have gotten as close as it got there at the end, but we found a way to finish it,” Hamilton said.
Caledonia returns to the diamond on Thursday for a doubleheader, starting at 10 a.m. against Booneville in Corinth.
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