published Friday, March 21st, 2014

Vaughn, McCallie clip Pirates

The umpire calls McCallie third baseman Quinn Smith, 10, safe during the South Pittsburg versus McCallie baseball game at the Hixson Wildcat Classic on Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Harrison, Tenn.
The umpire calls McCallie third baseman Quinn Smith, 10, safe during the South Pittsburg versus McCallie baseball game at the Hixson Wildcat Classic on Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Harrison, Tenn.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

Drew Vaughn, McCallie's pitcher Thursday, is drawing interest from Penn State and Georgia Tech, among other college baseball programs.

He showed why in an opening game of Hixson's Wildcat Baseball Classic, giving up three hits and no earned runs in the Blue Tornado's 3-1 victory over South Pittsburg.

"He has some potential as a pitcher and he's beginning to show it. This was probably the best game he has pitched for McCallie," Tornado coach Greg Payne said.

Vaughn, a lanky right-hander with a sneaky fastball, downward-looping curveball and decent changeup, gave up a leadoff single in the second and third innings but pitched around a runner in scoring distance each time.

He was finally touched for a run in the sixth. Again, he gave up a leadoff hit -- this time a double to Kitt Grider -- and the Pirates shortstop came around to score on a passed ball.

Vaughn finished his 80-plus-pitch day with seven strikeouts

"He threw it well," South Pitt coach Wes Stone said. "He did what he was supposed to do, and he kept us off-balance. We have to do a better job of putting balls in play."

That sentiment extended to McCallie.

"We didn't do a real good job of hitting," Payne said. "And we missed some opportunities to advance runners. Part of it was their guy."

That was Jess Morrison, a 14-year-old freshman making his first varsity start.

"We were discussing the rotation for the weekend and he stepped up and said, 'I'll pitch one.' I told him we were throwing him to the wolves," Stone said.

Morrison pitched a five-hitter without striking out a single Tornado.

"He gave us a chance, and that's all you can ask," Stone said.

McCallie touched the youngster for two earned runs but got on the scoreboard first on an unearned run. Leadoff man Tyler Payne reached on an error, stole third and came home on Christian Burnett's sacrifice fly. Ethan Cody got the second RBI on a single that scored Quinn Smith from second.

Burnett and Payne also provided the third Tornado run. Payne beat out a bunt and earned his second stolen base of the day before Burnett's second sac fly.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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