WHITWELL, Tenn. — It was the bottom of the order that helped South Pittsburg finish on top of the District 6-A baseball tournament.
The Pirates beat county rival Whitwell on Tuesday for the fourth time in as many meetings this season, 5-3, with each of their runs coming from the lower half of the lineup. It's the third district tournament championship for the Pirates in four years.
Whitwell, which eliminated Marion County 3-2 in the losers-bracket final earlier in the evening, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against South Pittsburg, highlighted by an Austin Nesselt RBI single.
But the Pirates answered in the bottom of the inning with three runs of their own, on a two-run single from Jesse Elledge and an RBI single from Lane Morrison.
"That was probably the turning point in the game, for us to come back and tie it right away like that," Elledge said. "They had the momentum early, but we took it right back and kept it the rest of the way."
After a scoreless next three innings, South Pittsburg took the lead in the fifth by taking advantage of a two-out error that allowed Brady Petty to reach base, and he later scored on a Jeff Bennett hit. McKinna Blevins added an RBI single in the sixth.
After a shaky first inning in which he gave up four hits, junior right-hander Logan Alder allowed just one more hit the rest of the way and struck out 12 for the win.
"Once he settled in, he did a really good job of putting that first inning out of his mind and just being solid," Pirates coach Wesley Stone said. "We've got about 10 hitters that we feel confident in, no matter where they are in the order, and today it was that lower half that really got it done for us."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having 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, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...