The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers are playing baseball as well these days as any team in the Chattanooga area.
The Bucs beat their second straight opponent by 10-0 and improved to 26-9 overall after starting the season a dismal 2-7.
Monday's victim was the Whitwell Tigers, a team that had beaten Boyd-Buchanan during that slow start.
There was nothing close about Monday's game as the Bucs put single runs up in the first and second innings before blowing things open with a five-run fourth. Then they closed the deal with one out in the sixth as they added the final three runs.
Junior right-hander Skyler Anderson was the man on the mound as he improved to 8-2 with the complete game in which he allowed just five hits with no walks and no hit batters. The Bucs played flawless defense behind him as the hosts just breezed through another big game.
Center fielder Jim Cardwell, who serves as the leadoff man for the Bucs and who just about guarantees a runner on second when he reaches first, was the big man at the plate. His bases-loaded double was the biggest blow in the fourth while he had an RBI-single in the sixth. He also reached on a Whitwell error to start the game and scored the first run on a double by Nathan Murrell.
Cade Evans, who continues a great freshman season with great defense at short and a batting average right at .500, did his part again as he had two hits in four at-bats, drove in two and also scored a pair.
Murrell was the only other Buc with two hits while Colby Morgan's single in the sixth drove in Evans with the final run of the game.
"We played well today as Skyler was on today," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Josh Rider afterward.
"Jim (Cardwell) broke it open with the big three-run double and that completely took the wind out of Whitwell's sails. We were fortunate to push a couple of runs across early in the game, but Jim's shot gave us some breathing room.
"I felt confident that we would win at that point because Skyler wasn't giving up anything," Rider nodded.
Anderson was certainly at the top of this game as he finished by throwing only 78 pitches, including 57 for strikes.
"I'm just glad that we got the win as we're one step closer to our goal of winning a state championship," the 17-year-old junior said with confidence.
"This was probably one of my best starts as I was hitting my spots and I had them off-balance all day. We got some key hits and we played great defense. We can beat anybody when we play like that," he added.
Cardwell had a great big grin on his face when the game ended. Apparently, the senior standout has been struggling at the plate, but a minor adjustment in the position of his hands is making all the difference at just the right time.
"I just want to play a little baseball," he began after hopping off the Gator that was dragging the field after the game ended.
"I think I got my swing back. The count was 2-1 and I guessed right on a fastball on that double. I thought it might be out for a second, but then I heard our first base coach telling me to run, run, run.
"We had a good idea that Chase White would be pitching for them, so we took batting practice off John Sewell yesterday. John's a lefty too, so we were ready for him today," the stocky senior added.
While Murrell's double drove in Cardwell with the first run, Josh Antwine had the run-scoring single in the second. Cardwell had the big blow in the fourth while he joined Evans and Morgan with RBI-singles in the sixth.
Whitwell's season ends at 19-12, but coach Scott Barton didn't beat around the bush in his postgame comments.
"That's a tough one," he began.
"The Anderson kid did a great job for them he stayed ahead of our hitters and pitched well. Of course, we gave them three or four runs with our poor defense, but it just sort of went like a roller-coaster from there.
"I thought that Chase pitched pretty well, but we didn't play any defense behind him. My hat's off to Boyd-Buchanan as they have a fine baseball team, but we gave them way too many second chances today," Barton concluded.
The Tigers finished the game with five hits, a double by Tyler Tate in the fourth the only extra-base hit for the Tigers. Blake Nelson, Bailey Blaylock, Josh Patton and White all had a single apiece.
The Bucs now await the winner of Silverdale and South Pittsburg. Wednesday's Region final would be at Boyd-Buchanan should the Seahawks win, but would be on the road if the Pirates prevail.
WHITWELL 000 000 -- 0 5 3
BOYD-BUCHANAN 110 503 -- 10 9 0
White and Patton; Anderson and Payne.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)