Matthew Jarrett was among the eighth graders that helped lead Polk Middle this season to five wins and a playoff berth

Polk County Middle dropped a 5-2 decision Wednesday at Smoky Mountain Midde in the opening round of the Blue Ridge Conference baseball tournament.

And, yet, in many ways head coach Alston Rikard could not have prouder of the final result.

Not because of the season-ending outcome, but because of the statement it made about the progress this season of Polk Middle’s roster.

Back in March, in the second game of the season, Smoky Mountain Middle (10-2) rolled to a 13-0 win over Polk Middle. For the Wolverines (5-10) to compete on even terms in the rematch showed much to Rikard and staff.

“There has been so much improvement this year and the boys proved their hard work,” Rikard said. “It’s not often you get a rematch against a team from the beginning of the year, and to be tied with that caliber of team for as long as we were is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Polk Middle scored its two runs in the fifth inning in a rally highlighted by doubles by Nate Fagan and Callum Eadus. Those are two of the eighth graders on the roster that have helped spark a resurgence for Polk Middle baseball.

“It’s been an incredible season, and I’m definitely going to miss the leadership brought by all of the eighth graders (Simms Harris, Matt Jarrett, Jace Williams, Fagan and Eadus),” Rikard said.

“Only one team can end the season like they want, and that sadly wasn’t us this year. But Tyler Johnson, Daniel Painter and myself are looking ahead to ways that we can make that happen here at PCMS.”