Team Opry edges Team iHeart with 13-11 victory at the 24th annual match during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. Chase Rice, Scotty McCreery, Jana Kramer and Bobby Bones also hit the field
Chase Rice is currently making waves these days with his current EP Ready Set Roll, but should he ever decide he wants a second career, he might think about sports. The singer, who played football for the University of North Carolina in college, turned out to be the difference for Team Opry Saturday morning in a 13-11 victory over Team iHeart during the 24th Annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game in Nashville – one of many events in town during the 2014 CMA Music Festival.
Rice kept Team iHeart at bay in the top of the first, though Danielle Bradbery did make it to first as the pitcher was unable to throw her out. She would be joined on base next by Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley – who would eventually make it to third. He would go the rest of the way after his singing partner Tyler Hubbard connected on a line drive between second and third base. However, back-to-back outs on Bobby Bones and Dustin Lynch would keep Team iHeart from additional scores. Team Opry didn't waste any time establishing momentum – as Jamie Lynn Spears connected on a single. iHeart pitcher Bobby Bones caught fire with back-to-back outs on Jessie James Decker and her NFL player husband Eric, but Chuck Wicks's blast to center gave Spears time to make it home, and Wicks himself proved too fast for anyone to tag him out, so Team Opry took a 2-1 lead after one.
Former Nashville Predator Stu Grimson kicked off the second for iHeart with a hit to right. Team Opry tried to toss him out at first, but missed the connection, so he would make it to second. Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin powered a single blast – which gave Grimson enough time to tie the score at 2-2. But, Rice regained his form – as neither Black Crowes drummer-turned Fox Sports talk show host Steve Gorman, newcomer Lindsay Ell, or CMT personality Alecia Davis could get to first in their at-bats, so it was back to Team Opry. Scotty McCreery – a baseball player in high school, and cancer survivor Kennedy Kraus made it on base, and then found themselves in the scoring tally thanks to a single from Brothers Osborne member John – to widen the gap to 4-2. His sibling, TJ , powered a single, as did Rice and Sarah Darling. It was the latter's hit that gave John Osborne time to make it across home plate – setting the score at 5-2 after two innings of play.
Both teams picked up their pedestrian pace in the third. Kraus, Bobby Bones producer Eddie Garcia, and newcomer SaraBeth – the sister of St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Jordan Swagerty -- all netted a score for Team iHeart, but the true highlight came when eight-year old cancer survivor Gavin Wolfrank started to run in relief of Bradbery. The Big Machine recording artist knocked the ball to center, where Rice scooped it up. However, with Wolfrank running, the pitcher tossed the ball back behind him to give the youngster a chance to score a run. All of the action put Team iHeart back on top. But, it wasn't to last. Wounded Warrior soldier Josh Wege got a huge ovation from the crowd on a home run for Team Opry, which tied the game once again. Additional highlights in the third included a Jana Kramer single, and another Wicks home run shot that put Team Opry back up 10-7.
Bones started the fourth with a successful bunt to first, but Rice was ready to 'set and roll' the rest of the inning by taking down his batters to give Team Opry a chance to add to its' lead. The team in orange and white did just that – with both John and TJ Osborne making it across home plate. Rice would add the final Opry points of the day, thanks to a hit to left from Dee Jay Silver that set the score at 13-7.
There is an old adage in the world of sports - "It's not over till it's over," and Team iHeart had some tricks up their sleeve in the top of the fifth. "Lunchbox" from The Bobby Bones Show made it in – despite Kramer's "best" attempt to tackle him, and a three-run homer from FGL's Kelley got iHeart to within 13-11, but that's as close as it would get. Though it was a competitive ball game from the first pitch to the final out, each artist had the big picture completely in mind.
Florida Georgia Line's Hubbard told Billboard "We're out here to have a good time, but it's all about the fans, and giving to a great cause."