District 7-AAA is one of the toughest in the state in all sports as every game is important no matter a team’s place in the standings. Whoever wins the district is usually in contention for a state title. However, in baseball, Riverdale has ruled the district the past couple of years, but Tuesday night, it fell at Oakland 4-1 at Mack Hawks Field.
Each of the district matchups this season is a two-game home-and-home series. On Monday night, Riverdale defended its home field with a 6-0 win over Oakland. The Warriors were led at the plate by sophomore infielder Haddon Adams, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs, and senior pitcher Brady Puckett only gave up five hits in the shutout victory.
The following night, the Patriots got a measure of revenge against its heated crosstown rival and a key district win to stay in the race for the title. Oakland senior right-hander Alex Ward pitched a gem by striking out five Warrior hitters and only giving up a towering home run in the top of the fourth by Puckett, who played first base for this game, for Riverdale’s only run of the game.
“It felt good because Riverdale has got a good team,” Ward said after the win. “You can not rest, and you got to bounce back.”
“Taking a tough loss (Monday) night, it was really good to bounce back,” Oakland senior first baseman Penn Moore added. “It gave us a lot of momentum going forward and we got to capitalized on it.”
In the meantime, the Patriots offense had already done its damage and it jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings. The Oakland scoring started in the bottom of the first inning when senior shortstop Grant Hawkins singled, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored when Moore beat out an infield single to make the score 1-0.
Oakland added some insurance in the bottom of the third when Ward doubled to left, and then senior designated hitter Peyton Motroni was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Moore brought both of them home with a triple to center which scored Ward and Motroni to make it 3-0. Junior center fielder Justin Wilson singled to score Moore as the Patriots led 4-0 after three innings.
“It was huge,” Moore said. “It really got us going and sparked. Against a good pitcher like Collin (Snider) scoring on him early it is huge. It is the key to beating a guy like that and it gave us a lot of momentum.”
After Ward gave up the homer to Puckett, he and the Oakland defense settled down as they only gave up two hits by the Warriors during the rest of the game.
“Ward is a special,” Moore said. “When you have a guy like that, you feel if you can get one or two runs on the score board then you going to win the game.”
Moore finished the game by going 2-for-2, and he was also hit by a pitch, while Ward got it done both at the plate and the mound going 2-for-3 in the win.
With the win, Oakland improved to 7-6, 2-2 on the season, while Riverdale dropped its first district game of the season to go 9-4, 3-1.
“Every time you face them, you have to come prepared,” Ward said. “You know how good they are, and its feels good to beat your cross town rival to get the split.”
District play will be back next week, but each of the local teams will compete at the Warrior Spring Classic this weekend against some of the top competition in the south. The Patriots will face three teams from Alabama and Franklin County during the weekend, while Riverdale will take on a team from Florida and Alabama. It was also face Collierville and Franklin from Tennessee.
The rest of county, Blackman, Siegel, LaVergne, Stewarts Creek and Smyrna, will also take part in the event starting on Friday.