Central Completes Sweep Of District Foe Hixson, 6-2
Wildcat Classic Awaits Both
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
- by David Jenkins
The Central Purple Pounders have hit the ground running -- and throwing, and hitting a little.
Coach Glenn Carter's team is playing at least six games this first week of the TSSAA prep baseball season, and Tuesday completed a sweep of the two games that mattered the most. Opening District 6-AA play with the Hixson Wildcats, the Pounders got five shutout innings and a clutch two-run single from Colton Morgan to win complete the home-and-home sweep Tuesday, 6-2.
"These two games are big, because they're district, and we threw our two best at them," Carter said of Morgan and Dominique Dawson, Tuesday's complete-game winner. "We've still got one really good one we haven't used yet, and we have seven pitchers who can throw strikes."
Due to Monday's rainout being played Wednesday night, Central is one of several teams who jump into this weekend's massive Wildcat Classic without a break. Carter is grateful that his school is one of the host sites, meaning Central gets a home game with East Ridge in the first round.
"But we have got to hit a lot better if we plan on making to the finals of any kind of tournament," the coach said. "After East Ridge Thursday, we play Bradley Friday and Ooltewah and Signal Mountain."
That gauntlet is similar to the one the Wildcats -- and their first-year coach, Shane Roberson -- will be running the next few days. But the tournament hosts will be backing their Classic weekend with district games against tough East Hamilton next Monday and Tuesday.
"I did that on purpose," said Roberson, who found himself faced with rebuilding a demoralized program when he moved to the school this year. "We need to learn about how to be competitive. We saw it tonight, scoring two runs in the last inning. We did not quit.:"
Morgan and Hixson's Alex Pruitt were locked in a fine pitching duel for four innings.
While both benefited from a generous strike zone (23 total strikeouts, including nine called thirds), each needed to escape major pickles to maintain the scoreless tie. Morgan's big escape act was stranding the bases loaded in the third, while Pruitt had to pitch around several of the Wildcats' five errors.
The deadlock lasted until the fifth.
With one out, No. 9 hitter Aldo Frias hit a sharp single to center. Dawson's sharp grounder to first caused indecision and chaos, and all hands were safe. Tyler Lowe broke the scoring ice with a ground out to second, but an infield hit from Ryan Poole and a walk loaded the bases for Morgan. A balk scored one run, but Morgan's clean single plated two more for a 4-0 lead.
In the sixth, another balk and a double steal scored two more runs with just one hit.
Morgan allowed only Zach Keasler's one-out hit in the third, but Hixson followed it with a pair of walks after Morgan balked. But with two out, Harper got Parker Tyo to hit a comebacker that killed the inning.
Hixson did get to reliever Lowe for a pair of final-inning runs, Chase Jones (single) and Gil Brown (ground ball) getting credit for the RBIs. But Morgan and Lowe combined to strike out 13 Wildcats on three hits. Three Hixson pitchers collaborated on six hits and 10 strikeouts in the district contest. Tyo, coming off major hip surgery in the off-season, was especially effective with three strikeouts in 1.1 innings.
Central 000 042 0 -- 6 6 0
Hixson 000 000 2 -- 2 3 5
Morgan (1-0), Lowe (6) and Poole; Pruitt, Loy (6), Tyo (6) and Gilkey. Records: Central (2-0, 2-0 in 6-AA); Hixson (0-2, 0-2).