The Pepperell Dragons split the first two games of their best-of-three Sweet 16 series with the Callaway Cavaliers on Thursday at Otis Gilbreath Field in Lindale.
The Dragons took Game 1 12-6, but the Cavaliers stormed back for a 10-0 shutout in five innings to even the series.
Pepperell trailed multiple times in Game 1, but rallied on both occasions.
The Dragons fell behind 2-0, but Chase Gresham sliced the lead in half on a double to center field to make it 2-1. Landen Loyd immediately followed up with an RBI single to tie the game 2-2 and put runners on the corners.
Brenton McGinnis then hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Loyd for Pepperell’s third run and a 3-2 edge after three innings.
Callaway rallied for three runs to send the game to 5-3 Cavaliers, but the Dragons found some offense in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Kolby Davis led off the fifth with a double, Ryan Ely singled and an error at first base caused Pepperell to bring the game within a run at 5-4. Two batters later, Loyd connected on an RBI single to tie the contest 5-5.
The Dragons eventually drew a bases-loaded walk to take the lead. Dakota Corntassel then cleared the bases with a ground ball to third and an error which suddenly propelled Pepperell in front 9-5.
Pepperell would never relinquish that lead as the Dragons tacked on three more insurance runs in the sixth to win 12-5.
“I thought our kids did a really good job battling in game 1,” Dragons head coach Chad Brown said in a text message. “They climbed back in it several times and finally poured it on at the end. Landen Loyd didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us the gritty effort we needed from a starter. Our bullpen did a good job in shutting the door.”
The nightcap of the doubleheader saw the Dragons bat as the “away” team.
Chase Gresham got the nod for the second game, but it quickly got out of hand with the Cavaliers striking for five in the first inning alone.
Pepperell’s offense struggled throughout, picking up just two hits and two walks. The Dragons struck out on five occasions as Callaway went on to win 10-0 in five innings.
First pitch for the winner-take-all game three is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. from Otis Gilbreath Field.
“The goal is to win the series and we put ourselves in a position to do that tomorrow,” Brown said. “Games 3s are what high school baseball is all about and we’ll have the home crowd behind us. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun.”