GALLATIN - The Station Camp Bison baseball team keeps adding to their trophy case. After picking up the District 9AAA tournament championship, Station Camp downed district-foe Hendersonville 5-1 to earn the Region 5AAA championship and a home sectional game against Independence for the right to go to the state tournament in Murfreesboro.
“We are feeling pretty good right now,” Station Camp skipper Korey Heppeard said. “This is the first group I’ve had for four years, and I remember telling them as freshmen they were a special group. But we had to work, and if they worked the job would get done. So far the job has gotten done but we have one more to go.”
Station Camp has gotten used to being at home, as the Bison have not left the friendly confines of their baseball park since April 30, playing eight games at home during that span.
“It’s nice to play at home, the boys like to be here and we don’t like to lose here,” Heppeard said. “When you get to this point it’s nice to have your home crowd behind you and they were great again tonight.”
With the victory, Station Camp welcomes in Region 6 AAA adversary Independence after the Eagles dropped their region championship game to Summit, the team that awaits Sumner County opponent Hendersonville on Friday.
“I just tell my boys it doesn’t matter who we face,” Heppeard said. “Hard, slow, good stuff, fast balls only we have to be us. We have to stay short and just throw our hands at the baseball and keep being us.
“It’s always going to be at this point of the season who will be on the mound and everyone will have their studs ready to rock and roll so we have to just go out and do us.”
Even though the region championship wasn’t a must-win for the Bison, Heppeard and his team approached the game as if it was.
“We absolutely approached tonight as a must-win,” he said. “We respect the team in black and gold and they have been here before and know how to get the job done. That is a great cultured baseball program and one we are trying to get to. I think we are making the right steps and I think it helped when our boys won the district to show we are just as good.”
On the other side of the field, morale was high for the Commando baseball team knowing they still have a shot to get to Murfreesboro and compete for the Class AAA crown.
“At the beginning of the year if you would have told me we were one game away from Murfreesboro, I would have said we had a good chance to get there,” Hendersonville head coach Mike Hendrix said. “But once all that stuff happened, I knew it was going to be a tough road to get there. Well now we got our pitching back. We got Mullins, Hansen and Sanders all ready to go. We are going to play a tough, good team but we got good pitching ready to play.”
After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, things looked bright for the Commandos but an error, followed by a mental mistake and lack of hitting afterwards cost HHS a shot at the region title.
“We had one bad inning,” Hendrix added. “An error, then a mental mistake at third then the get two or three hits in a row, but I thought Tucker came back and did a good job after that. Bottom line is you have to score more than just one run. After how we swung the bats at Rossview I thought we would do a good job today, too, but I’m not sure if we got nervous or not. We have got to score some runs Friday night and make things happen.”
Trailing 1-0 following a Luke McClendon single to score Caid Sanders, Station Camp plated four runs in the home half of the inning to all but seal the deal.
With runners on second and third, Hunter Lautzenheiser doubled to right center to score Garrett Liles tying the game. The next batter, Case Eldridge singled to score Blake Butler for the 2-1 lead. Cooper Jackson put the Bison up two runs scoring Lautzenheiser and Eldridge scored on a fielder’s choice out for the 4-1 lead.
Station Camp added one more insurance run in the fifth inning on a Ryan Ginther single to score Jason Burger.
Cooper Jackson earned the win on the mound for the Bison. The senior threw four complete innings, giving up two hits, one earned run and striking out three Commando batters.
Brandon Tucker took the loss for Hendersonville surrendering five runs and seven hits in four innings.
Station Camp will host Independence today 7 p.m., while Hendersonville travels to Summit at 6:30.