SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. -- The five-minute fireworks display after the game wasn't nearly as impressive as the offensive explosion during the game by South Pittsburg's baseball team.
For a second straight season the Pirates clobbered Jackson County, this time in a 12-0 five-inning win Friday afternoon for a trip to the Class A state tournament.
South Pittsburg (31-7) scored in every inning, collecting 14 total hits, while freshman left-handed pitcher Tyler Reed allowed just three hits, striking out four. It is the first time the program has reached consecutive state tournaments.
"Last year we were just excited to get there, and we enjoyed the experience," Pirates coach Wesley Stone said. "That's not good enough anymore. This time we're going for one reason and one reason only, and that's to win the whole thing."
The Pirates wasted no time in taking command, scoring three runs in the home half of the first inning. Jacob Toney's two-out, two-run single up the middle was followed by an RBI single from Michael Allen. All but one of the Pirates' hits were singles, but Josh Thomas' double in the second drove in a run and he plated another in the third with a squeeze bunt that he beat out for an infield hit.
"It was definitely important to jump on them early and make them drop their head and remember what we did last year," said Thomas, who finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored, two RBIs and two stolen bases. "Everybody's intensity was way up before the game, so I felt pretty confident going in."
Toney went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, while Michael Allen was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Matt Allen went 2-for-2, also with two RBIs. Seven of the Pirates' nine batters collected at least one hit.
Reed, who threw a no-hitter in last week's district tournament, wasn't intimidated by the situation, working his way out of just one jam by striking out the final batter in the first with a runner on third base.
"That's a tough spot for a kid who just turned 15 to be pitching with the season on the line," Stone said. "But he's been solid for us all year, and we don't even think of him being a freshman now. We just expect him to go out and pitch strong for us, and that's what he did again.
"That's the best we've swung the bats in about five games, so that was good to see going in to next week. We've got seven seniors and a junior who all played a lot in last year's tournament, so I think they have a different attitude about how we'll approach it this year. It's more of a business trip."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...