Hixson third baseman Gill Brown hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the Wildcats routed Loudon, 10-4, in a Region 3-AA baseball semifinal on Monday at John Plumlee Stadium.
“Gill’s homer changed the game’s momentum with one swing,” Hixson coach Colton Green said.
Right-hander Alex Prewitt (8-1) was in control after a shaky first inning until the Redskins touched him for two runs in the seventh.
“I lost it a little there in the seventh and that last out was tough,” Prewitt said.
The Wildcats (22-11), coming off their first District 6-AA tournament title since 2005, advance to Wednesday’s championship against Sequoyah at 6 p.m. Sequoyah (23-6), which has won nine of its last 10 games, beat Central, 7-0, to earn the spot opposite Hixson in the title game.
Central’s season ends at 16-20.
“Multiple errors hurt us a lot,” Loudon coach Aaron Everett said. “We’re pretty young with six sophomores and one freshman in the lineup. If we hit the ball and make routine plays we might be right in the ballgame.
“As of late, defense has been a problem because we’ve pitched really well.”
The Redskins (12-15) jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Wildcats quickly gained the upper hand as Prewitt started to control the Loudon bats.
A pickoff attempt at first by the Redskins’ starting pitcher went awry and John Mulkey scored from third with the Wildcats’ fifth run. Prewitt’s double to right-center pushed Mulkey across and when the inning was over Hixson had a 7-2 advantage.
In the sixth, Hixson’s Austin Gilkey, who reached on a fielding error, eventually scored when a throwing error – both miscues were by the second baseman – when runners were caught in a rundown.
Gilkey’s single to center scored Prewitt and Brown’s hit to center pushed across the third run of the inning.
Loudon’s final two runs came in on a single and ground-rule double.
“Making the region final is awesome,” Prewitt said. “It’s a great accomplishment and I think we’ll have a lot of confidence going into that game Wednesday.
“Our defense got off to a bad start, but we started hitting the ball and scoring some runs. I was doing OK until the seventh and I thought it was going to be a much longer inning. I finally got the last out and felt great.”
Green stuck with his hard-throwing right-hander until the end.
“He just pounds the strike zone and makes the other team put it in play,” Green said. “It’s a testament to his character the way he battled all night long without having his best stuff.
“This was a big win and we’re one win from going to the state tournament. We weren’t ready for the season to be over.”
Loudon 200 000 2 – 4 8 5
Hixson 400 303 x – 10 10 2
Lowe, Townson (5) and Crabtree; Prewitt and Gilkey.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)