NOLENSVILLE -- The Nolensville Knights came back from a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning, downing the Greenbrier Bobcats 5-3 on Friday night to clinch a berth in the TSSAA Class AA state tournament.
“I think we were prepared,” Nolensville coach Zac Hudson said. “The moment did not get too big for us tonight, and we were able to get some timely hits.”
“They were able to string some good at-bats together,” Greenbrier coach Justin Alberson said. “We had a bad hop that the shortstop booted to give them two runs, otherwise, we would have been out of the inning.”
In the top of the first inning, the Bobcats provided some fireworks with a two-run homer off the bat of catcher Luke Jones, giving Greenbrier an early 2-0 lead.
“(Jones) has been a driving force for our team all year,” Alberson stated. “He is our leader, and he is going to Tennessee Tech for a reason. He is a good player that plays with a lot of heart and emotion.”
Nolensville cut into the lead in the bottom of the first when Tyler Smith scored on a double play to cut it to 2-1. That was all the Knights could find offensively as Greenbrier pitcher Trey Semore was sharp, forcing groundouts and flyouts.
Greenbrier’s Chance Merithew found a gap in the infield for an RBI single to extend the Bobcat lead 3-1 in the top of the third. Semore and Nolensville’s Kyler Hayes were then locked in a pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Nolensville finally broke through. Dawson Conder got the rally started with an RBI triple to cut it to 3-2. Tyler Hammonds chipped in an RBI single and infielder Tyler Hummel gave Nolensville the lead with another RBI single as the Knights held a 4-3 advantage.
“(Hummel) is a freshman that has had tons of opportunities for us this year,” Hudson said. “He was prepared and put a good swing on the ball and did a great job at the plate.”
In the top of the sixth, Knights reliever Reese Milam tallied three groundouts to hold the lead at 4-3. The Knights added to their lead on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth to extend the score to 5-3.
Milam closed it out in the top of the seventh to seal the victory for Nolensville 5-3. With the win, Nolensville advances to Spring Fling in Murfreesboro for the first time in school history.
“It is a great accomplishment, especially being a third-year program,” Hudson said. “Two years ago, we only had two wins on the season. I wanted our players to experience this moment, but we have more that we want to do this season.”
Nolensville’s first game in the state tournament will be on Tuesday against Elizabethton at 6:30 p.m. at Blackman High School. The loss ends the Bobcats season at 23-9.