Ruff and ready: Polk Middle upsets Canton Middle in semifinals

Polk County Middle's Shane Parris

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.

Polk Middle's Daniel Ruff
Polk Middle’s Daniel Ruff

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.