A special graduation ceremony was held early Monday afternoon, May 16 at the Mt. Juliet High baseball field for Golden Bear seniors who will miss their commencement exercises in order to play in the 7 p.m. Region 5-AAA tournament opener against Rossview.
"Coach (Mark) Purvis left it up to the seniors as to whether he should try to get the game moved up," said MJHS athletic director Mike Duncan. "There are 10 seniors and a manager."
MJ Principal Mel Brown and Duncan presented diplomas to the team members at home plate with their families and friends in the grandstand, allowing the team plenty of time to prepare for tonight's game with Rossview.
Mt. Juliet (27-10) earned the right to host the region opener with a 3-0 victory over Gallatin May 10 in the finals of the District 9-AAA tournament.
The Golden Bears won the district for the ninth time in the past 11 years, winning four consecutive games and allowing just two earned runs.
Mt. Juliet 3, Gallatin 0
Mt. Juliet High got a dominating pitching performance from sophomore Ethan Smith in Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Gallatin in the finals of the District 9-AAA baseball tournament.
Smith (4-4) struck out 11 and threw a complete game three-hitter as the Bears wrapped up a ninth district title over a span of 11 seasons.
The game snapped Gallatin's nine-game winning streak as Mt. Juliet swept through the district tournament without a loss.
"Ethan did a great job of keeping their leadoff man off the base and we played great defense," said MJ head coach Mark Purvis.
"Gallatin is tough to play because they seem to make every play. You think a ball's in the hole, then you look up and somebody's making play.
"They don't give you anything. My hat's off to them. They've come a long way in a month."
Mt. Juliet's Tyler Brown broke open a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out bases loaded liner over short to chase home two runs.
The Bears (27-10) picked up a run in the sixth as Alex Deriggi doubled, then eventually scored on a wild pitch.
First pitch for Monday's Region 5-AAA opener is on tap for 7 p.m. against District 10-AAA runner-up Rossview.
Gallatin (19-10) will travel to the District 10-AAA champion Henry County Monday.