BY DREW COOK
LEBANON, Tenn. — Daniel Parris has been clutch for several years at Knox Catholic. He has produced big hits in big moments before.
In the state semifinals against Lipscomb Academy, the University of Tennessee signee delivered in the biggest at-bat of his career.
With the game tied at four in the seventh inning, Parris crushed a two-run-shot over the right-field wall to give Catholic a late lead. Though Lipscomb Academy loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, Catholic held on to win 6-4 and advance to the Division II-Class AA championship game.
“My approach the whole game was the same – sitting fastball,” Parris said. “I finally got a fastball, turned on it, let it travel, and took it where it needed to be.”
Parris had two hits and three RBIs Wednesday to lead Catholic (30-9) in both categories.
“We knew going to top of the seventh we had 1, 2, and 3 (hitters) coming up, and they’re up there for a reason,” Catholic coach Caleb Moore said. “Miller Spence did a great job getting on base for us, and Daniel capitalizing on a pitch left up in the zone was just monumental.
“A great feeling.”
Hudson Lutterman earned the win for the Irish with four scoreless innings in relief. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with a game-ending strikeout. Lipscomb had also loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Lutterman got out of that, too.
“Hudson didn’t really pitch much for us going into the postseason – he had only thrown an inning and two-third. Then he threw six and a third, he’s closed for us, and now he’s doing this,” Moore continued.
“He’s just a top-notch player. We have so much confidence in him because he competes at a high level, and he really focuses in. It was great to see that success out of him.”
Lutterman opened the game with an RBI-double and later scored in the first. It was only fitting Lutterman was the one sealing the game for the Irish.
The job’s not finished for Catholic. They’ve set their sights on finishing the week as state champs, and they only need one win to accomplish that feat.
“We’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep the same intensity that we have and hit the ball. Everyone’s aces are gone, basically it comes down to who can put the most runs up,” said Parris.
Catholic will play either Lipscomb Academy or CPA in the championship game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at MTSU.
The Irish will have to be beaten twice Thursday to not win their first state title. The program has three runner-up finishes (2009, 2014, 2015).
“There’s still a lot of baseball to be played,” Moore added. “A lot of good baseball. We’ve got to stay calm and understand that we’re still just trying to win every single inning. We gave ourself a chance – that’s what we want when we come down here, to have a chance on the last day. We’ve done that.”
— Drew Cook (@drewcooktweets) May 24, 2023