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Mister Roberts

Super-sized Alcoa seventh-grader shows off glove skills in title game
Tornado starter Brody Sloan locks in on the target during the championship game of the Blount County Middle School Baseball Tournament on Monday at Carpenters. Photo by Beth Murphy

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Tornado first baseman Nick Roberts drives a pitch into the outfield.

Nick Roberts connects. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

It’s just a little bit alarming to stand next to him, unless you’re Shaq.

At 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, Alcoa Middle seventh-grader Nick Roberts sure looks the part.

Doesn’t look like he’s shaving yet, either.

The Tornado first baseman can also field his position, Roberts playing a key role in Alcoa’s 7-0 win over host Carpenters in the championship game of the Blount County Middle School Baseball Tournament Monday night.

The Tornadoes broke open a one-run game with a four-run fifth inning to take control, Grant Livesay, Kaleb Cardwell, K’Vaughn Tyson and Roberts getting the runs home. Only Tyson and Roberts punched their way aboard with hits, and that was a big part of the story.

With the super-sized Roberts stretching to glove the occasional throw in the dirt, Alcoa was rock solid defensively. Three pitchers – Brody Sloan, three innings, Kobe Robinson, two, Will Shelton, two – combined to limit Carpenters to four hits, retiring eight Cougars by strikeout.

Sloan yielded a single and two base runners in his three innings.

Alcoa went the distance without a single fielding or throwing error.

“That’s the big thing,” Alcoa coach Keith Stephens said. “We knew we had to do a better job defensively. We told them, ‘Keep your head up. Don’t let one bad play become a second one by thinking about it.’”

K'Vaughn Tyson checks up after rounding third. P

K’Vaughn Tyson checks up after rounding third. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Carpenters had the top of the order up in the sixth when an erroneous call on a double play put finished to the Cougars last, best chance.

Shelton worked to one more than the minimum an inning later, fanning two, to close it out.

The strong showing defensively was satisfying in more ways than one for the Tornadoes.

The Cougars had rallied in their final at bat to upend Alcoa, 11-9, in eight innings on Friday to force Monday’s if-necessary game. Six Alcoa errors, including two in the decisive eighth, were costly. It’s something the Tornadoes thought about all weekend, Roberts said.

“We really came to play defensively,” he said. “Last game we didn’t play very well, and it led to a loss. The whole team wanted this one really bad.”

A.J. Davis IV awaits the pitch.

A.J. Davis IV awaits the pitch. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

A.J. Davis IV, grandson of legendary Alcoa High School star Albert Lee “Sonny” Davis, singled his way aboard in the Alcoa second to begin the scoring in the championship game. Jalen McCord legged out a single on an attempted sacrifice a batter later to move Davis to third, Davis getting home when a throw to pick him at third sailed into left field.

Grant Livesay got aboard on a Cougars’ error to open the breakaway fifth. Kaleb Cardwell was hit by a pitch a batter later. After a pitching change, back-to-back RBI singles from Tyson and Roberts got it rolling. Shelton helped his cause with a groundout to short to push another run home.

This could be some group when they reach the high school, Stephens said. Roberts and second baseman Ty Boyd, 5-11, 150, have another year at the middle school.

“This is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever had,” Stephens said.
Alcoa Middle Tornadoes
2015 Blount County Champions
Mason Palonis, K’Vaughn Tyson, Brody Sloan, Garrett Rogers, Kaleb Cardwell, Andrew Coulter, Grant Live say, Nick Roberts, Shannon Mitchell, A.J. Davis IV, Tee Boyd, Jolene McCord, Kobe Robinson, Will Shelton

Head coach: Keith Stephens
Assistant coach: Ricky Hess

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