Morristown’s Brice Epps (12) makes contact with the ball during Saturday’s 9-11 state tournament game against Goodlettsville in Gray.
GRAY — Goodlettsville came out swinging Saturday afternoon and handed Morristown an 11-1 run-rule setback in the opening round of the Tennessee 11-Year Old Little League State Tournament at Daniel Boone Little League field.
The winners collected eight hits with six of those coming in the first two innings to back the combined two-hit pitching of four pitchers.
With the victory, Goodlettsville advanced to play Gallatin this morning at 10 a.m. Morristown slipped into the loser’s bracket and will battle Johnson City American at 5:30 p.m. tonight in the double-elimination tournament.
Gallatin beat Johnson City in Saturday’s tournament opener. Oddly enough, the score of that one was also 11-1. Lexington took on St. Bethlehem and Maryville battled Tullahoma in Saturday’s late games.
Goodlettsville, a known powerhouse on all levels of Little League baseball, scored three times in the top of the first and never looked back in the four-inning contest.
Leadoff batter Derek Chambliss collected three safeties to lead Goodlettsville and was the only player in the game with more than one hit.
However, seven of the other eight starters for the winners either had a hit or knocked in a run.
Morristown’s only hits came off the bats of Brice Epps and Blake Bible who also walked and scored the only run in the bottom of the first.
“They’re a perennial Little League power,” Morristown coach Lance Epps said of Goodlettsville. “Every year it seems you see their league playing on TV in the regional or World Series. This was a really good hitting baseball team.”
He continued, “They’re just tough. Every one of them hit the baseball…from the top to the bottom of the order.
“And they had good pitching and played good defense,” he said. “When you do all of those, you’re not going to lose too many times.”
Morristown starting pitcher Matt Heflin left the game in the second inning with an arm injury, and Rylin King was hit by a foul ball and also left the game. Epps said, “I don’t know about Matt, but I think Rylin will be all right (today).
“We just have to find a way to bounce back from this one. We’ve got all of our pitching except Matt eligible, but we’ll have to hit the baseball much better and play defense.
“I thought our pitchers did a pretty good job when we played defense behind them today,” he said. “We didn’t do that when Matt was out there but we settled down and played better D the last couple of innings. I don’t know if we were nervous or what at the start, but we had a couple of costly errors in the first.”
Chambliss led off with a hit and went to second as the ball got past an outfielder. Lance Angell then got on during an error, putting runners on the corners.
Angell took the free base at second and Maddox Galbreath stroked a double to left-center field to plate both runners. Galbreath scored the third run on Charlie Crabb’s ground out.
Bible walked leading off the Morristown half of the frame, and Ty Steisslinger put down what looked to be a perfect bunt. However, third baseman Crabb came racing in to make a great play and get Steisslinger at first.
After moving to third on a wild pitch, Bible scored as Heflin reached on an error. Morristown got just one runner as far as second base after that point.
Two of the next three batters were hit by a pitch, and the next three had bases on balls as the lead grew to 9-1.
Epps got Morristown’s first hit in the bottom of the inning, but the other three batters in the inning all struck out.