Sequoyah (8-4, 3-4 Region 7AAAAA) was without three of its top five players due to injury. Tyler Holmes is out with a torn meniscus, Jacob Cagle is nursing a sore tendon in his wrist and Jacob Weems is out after being hit in the face by a thrown ball while attempting to make a play at first base.
Sequoyah coach Joseph Jones said the injuries hurt, but ultimately the team just isn’t hitting the ball.
While Puckett wasn’t throwing his best stuff, according to Creekview coach Mike Nayman, he had control and fought back from deep counts during several at-bats.
The Chiefs put runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but Puckett worked out of the jams each time.
Creekview (7-5, 6-1) got on the board with a run in the second inning.
Ryan Zentko doubled to left-center before Avery Smith drew a walk. Nick Williams followed with a fly ball to right that moved Zentko to third, and Zentko scored when Kyle Wilkie reached first on an error at short. Sequoyah starting pitcher Tristan Roberts struck out Ryan Stevens and C.J. Sims to end the inning with runners on the corners.
To his credit, Roberts was solid through five innings before giving up four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Roberts struck out five batters — including the side in the first inning and two more in the second. Going into the sixth inning, he had allowed just two hits and one unearned run.
From the play, Roberts was also the only Chief with two hits, including a fourth-inning double.
“(Roberts) did a great job. I was impressed,” Nayman said. “I don’t know if he got a little bit tired, or something, at the end, but he was impressive. What a sound pitcher he is going to be.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Creekview loaded the bases with one out, but Roberts induced a double play to end the inning without allowing a run.
Sequoyah’s trouble began in the sixth inning.
Puckett singled up the middle and was replaced by courtesy runner Adam Nun. Zentko then beat out a bunt for a single as Nun advanced to second. Smith followed with a no-out single to center, which drove in Nun and left Zentko on second.
At that point, the Chiefs went to their bullpen — sort of.
Russ McGlamry, who had been playing third, took the mound. Roberts moved to first, first baseman Evan Ezell moved behind the plate to catch and catcher Daniel Sears went to third.
McGlamry gave up a single to Williams — the first batter he faced — to load the base, and Wilkie doubled down the first-base line to bring home Zentko and Smith. With the sixth batter of the inning, Sequoyah recorded the first out when Stevens’ sacrifice to left brought home Williams.
A baulk by McGlamry then moved Max Holton — in to run for Wilkie — to third. After a Sims strikeout, Whitaker reached on an error at first, which allowed Holton to score. Chandler Wold drew a walk before Sequoyah was finally able to get out of the inning.
“Those last couple of innings stretched out a bit,” Nayman said. “It was certainly a surprise.”
Nayman said he has stressed to his players the importance of playing to a mentality of 21 outs — not seven innings — and he’s been pleased that the team has limited its errors.
“If you give teams 23 or 24 outs in this region, they will just beat up on you,” he said. “When you are making your pitcher do the extra work, sooner or later, something is going to happen, and that was what happened (Wednesday night).”
The game was the first of three between the archrivals. They play once on one another’s home field, sandwiched around an April 13 game at Turner Field — the third straight season they’ve played at the Atlanta Braves’ home.
Creekview will play its third game of the week when it travels to Sprayberry on Friday. Sequoyah will travel to Cambridge for another region game Friday.