Conventional wisdom going into the boys 11-12 senior league tournament was Gary Steele Karate and McMinnville Physical Therapy would battle for the championship.
Nobody shared that information with Gateway Tire.
Using a strong performance on the mound by Omari Harris, Gateway Tire beat Gary Steele Karate 7-3 to send the top seed into the loser’s bracket.
Harris pitched six stellar innings and struck out 10 while allowing only three hits to the league’s co-champion in the regular season. Gary Steele Karate and McMinnville Physical Therapy, which won its way into the winner’s bracket final earlier last week, finished the regular season tied. Gary Steele Karate received the top seed in the tournament due to a tiebreaker.
Having the No. 1 spot didn’t seem to matter much Thursday night at Dottie West Field though. Gateway Tire took a 3-1 lead in the second inning and wouldn’t trail again en route to pulling off the biggest upset of the season.
Dakota Gibbs started the third inning with a bang when he drilled a triple to the fence against Braden Bottoms. Clay Eckenrod followed with a RBI double to knot the game a 1-1 after Gary Steele Karate took an early lead on a RBI double by Carter Mansfield.
Blake Adams pushed Gateway Tire in the lead for good when his single score Eckenrod. Adams would go on to score with two outs when Harris drew a bases-loaded walk.
Harris followed by striking out the side in the bottom of the second, bringing Gateway Tire back to the plate with a chance to increase its lead.
Jared Scruggs was the rally starter in the third inning when he started things off with a single. Gibbs followed with his second triple, making it 4-1. Hayden Lytle would come through with a two-out single to push the advantage to four.
Gary Steele Karate was able to slice the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth with its final two runs of the contest. Mansfield tripled and scored on a Jalen Haston single, then Haston stole second, third and home to make it 5-3.
Gateway Tire quickly pushed its lead back to four in the top of the fifth when Jared Scruggs singled and scored while Lytle added his second RBI single – this time scoring Adams.
Gary Steele Karate had a chance to make a late rally, but the team made its first two outs at third base in the sixth inning. Jalyn Mart and Xander Lee, who each walked, were caught stealing in the final inning. It proved to be the break Harris needed to end the game as he forced Haston to ground out with two runners on to end the game.
The win moved Gateway Tire into the winner’s bracket final, where it will meet McMinnville Physical Therapy Monday night. Gary Steele Karate will try to win its way back into the championship game when it meets Custom Collision Monday.
Custom Collision avoided elimination last Thursday when it sent Netherton Dentistry home with a 10-0 victory.
Heath Kuykendall powered Custom Collision to the win with four hits from the lead-off spot while Will Rivers added three hits and was the winning pitcher.
John Garrett also had three hits in the win while Ben Rivers and Jathan Cagle added two hits apiece. Alex Greer, Douglas Wells and Nate Newby had one hit each in the victory.
Netherton Dentistry failed to get a hit in the contest as Kuykendall, Garrett and Will Rivers combined to throw a perfect game. Rivers threw the first three innings and had five strikeouts while Garrett had two strikeouts in his lone inning of work. Kuykendall forced three groundouts while working the fourth inning.