A few feet was the difference between the Nashville Hornets continuing their season, and seeing their season come to a screeching halt. A would be game tying home run was caught just in front of the wall as the Hornets fell to Harrisburg 7-5 in the Sectional Championship game. The Hornets ended their season with a 30-7 record, the third consecutive year that Nashville has finished with that record.
With a berth in the Sectional Championship on the line, the Hornets scored late, to defeat the Fairfield Mules 4-3 on May 23. The Hornets got the game winning run in the bottom of the fifth, and held on late as they clinched their spot in the Sweet 16.
Nashville got the lead early as Carson Parker doubled to lead off the home half of the first, and came around to score on a groundout from Cole Malawy.
The lead would stick until the top of the third inning when free bases allowed the Mules to take the lead. A leadoff walk came around to tie the game at one, and then a bases loaded walk broke the tie.
Nashville would come right back in the bottom half of the inning. A sacrifice fly from Nick Paszkiewicz tied the game at two. Bryce Bultman then came through with a RBI single to give the Hornets a 3-2 lead.
Fairfield again tied the game in the fourth as the Mules were able to rally with two outs to push their third run across the plate.
The score stayed tied until the bottom of the fifth. With runners on the corners and one out, Bultman would lay down a perfect bunt to score Gavin Baldwin from third and give the Hornets a 4-3 lead.
Bultman would come in in relief in the sixth and close out the game on the mound as Nashville was able to squeak out a one run win.
Bultman talked about the win. “Big win. We did a lot of little things right towards the end. That’s what gave us the ballgame. I think we executed it very well and did the little things right. That’s why we won.”
Parker started the game on the mound and got the win for the Hornets. Parker went five innings, and gave up three earned runs on six hits. Parker struck out six batters, but also walked six. Coach Chad Malawy talked about Parker’s effort. “He’s been coming on late and that’s why we gave him the ball. Carson gutted it out, on a nice humid day, and kept us in it against one of the best offenses in the south, I think.”
Malawy then talked about handing the ball to Bultman who pitched the final two innings. Bultman gave up three hits, and struck out three in two shutout frames. “To be able to hand the ball over to Bryce Bultman. Bryce Bultman feels no pressure. Neither does Carson, as many wins as they have experienced between the sports that they play.”
Bultman led the Hornets at the plate with a 3-3 day. Bultman drove in two runs. Cole Malawy finished 2-4 with a run scored and a RBI. Parker also went 2-4 with a run scored. Baldwin doubled, walked, and scored a run in the win. Logan Eversgerd scored a run.
The Hornets season came to a screeching halt on May 25 as they fell to Harrisburg 7-5. The Bulldogs got out to a 6-1 lead over the Hornets. A late rally from Nashville came a few feet short as a deep fly ball off the bat of Tanner Bergmann fell just short of leaving the yard.
A few softly hit balls and a big blast off the bats of the Bulldogs put the Hornets in a 4-0 hole after just a half inning of play. Nashville got a run back in the bottom half as Bultman drove in his third run in two games to cut the Bulldog’s lead to three.
The score would hold until the third when Harrisburg added two insurance runs to take a 6-1 lead.
Nashville’s offense would stay quiet until the bottom of the fifth inning. Parker and Cole Malawy walked with one out, and a single to left off the bat of Baldwin gave the Hornets their second run of the game. Bultman and Kelton Harre laced back to back RBI singles to left field and Nashville got back within two. After five innings, the Hornets trailed Harrisburg 6-4.
A leadoff double from Ian Blazier and a single off the bat of Cole Malawy got the Hornets back within one in the bottom of the sixth, but Nashville stranded Malawy at second base. With six innings in the books, the Bulldogs were clinging to a 6-5 lead.
A important insurance run came around to score in the top of the seventh, as Harrisburg pushed their lead back to two with a sacrifice fly.
Nashville would come up to bat in the seventh in a familiar position, down late in a postseason contest.
After two quick outs, Harre walked to keep the Hornets season alive. With two strikes, Bergmann launched a deep fly ball to left field that looked to have a chance to tie the game. But just before the wall, Harrisburg’s Ben Brombaugh camped underneath for the final out of the game. The game was over, as was the Hornets season.
Coach Chad Malawy talked about the ball hit by Bergmann. “I thought it might have been over their head at first, but they were playing us pretty deep all day, I guess respecting the bats a little bit. I don’t know.”
Malawy added about playing Harrisburg. “Sometimes you just get beat. That’s the game of baseball. You just have to tip your hat. They just had a few more clutch hits than we did is my takeaway from the game. They are a great program. I think this is two of the elite programs of the south year in and year out. Not just this year. Baseball is the hardest sport to advance in the postseason.” Malawy continued on by saying. “For the two teams to get here at this point was great for fans and great for high school baseball in the south. We wish Harrisburg luck. I think over the past 20 years, these are two of the very best programs in the south if you look at Ws and close games.”
Todd Jahnke started the game, and settled down after the first inning. After giving up four runs in the first, Jahnke gave up just two earned runs in the next five innings. Jahnke finished with six innings pitched, ten hits, six earned runs, and four strikeouts. Bultman came in in relieve and gave up one earned run on three hits in one inning.
Bultman led the way again offensively. Bultman finished with two hits, and drove in two runs. Baldwin finished 2-4 with a run scored and a run driven in. Harre drove in a run on two hits, and walked in the loss. Cole Malawy finished with one hit, one run scored, one walk, and one RBI. Blazier doubled and scored a run in the loss. Parker did not record a hit, but walked twice and scored twice. Bergmann and Nick Paszkiewicz each finished with a hit apiece.