Polk County Middle handed Canton Middle a Ruff afternoon Wednesday the Bears won’t soon forget.
Daniel Ruff pitched a complete game, holding the top-seeded Bears in check long enough for Polk Middle to engineer a 6-4 upset in the semifinals of the Blue Ridge Middle School Conference tournament.
The Wolverines (7-9) will travel to Brevard Middle School for Thursday’s championship game. Brevard (13-3), the tourney’s No. 2 seed, outslugged Smoky Mountain 15-14 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Canton Middle ends its season at 13-3.
The Bears scored three runs in the first inning, but didn’t tally again until pushing a run across in the bottom of the seventh. By that time, Polk had surged to a 6-3 lead thanks to a huge third-inning outburst.
Ruff singled to open the third, with Evan Dadson reaching on an error before Jordan Bishop singled to drive in Ruff. One out later, Grayson Jones reached on a bunt to load the bases, and Nick Capozzi was hit by a pitch to force in Dadson and make it 3-2.
Kaleb Kropp then hammered a two-run double for a 4-3 lead. Canton got the inning’s second out, but Jonathan Edwards doubled to drive in Capozzi and Kropp and make it 6-3.
The game stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Canton pushed across one run and had runners on first and third with two outs. But Ruff induced a ground ball to Kropp, who stepped on first for the final out that moved Polk into the championship game.
Ruff allowed 10 hits, but didn’t walk a batter and threw just 76 pitches.
Kropp finished 2-for-3 to lead Polk, with Shane Parris, Jones, Edwards, Ruff and Bishop each adding base hits. The Wolverines were also solid defensively, committing just one error in the win.