Midway through the season, when he was given the choice to move up in the batting order, South Pittsburg senior Andy Case chose to stay in the eighth spot, believing he would see more fastballs.
In the fifth inning of Monday's District 6-A winners-bracket game at Lookout Valley, just after the Pirates' five-run lead had been cut to three, Case clobbered a first-pitch fastball well over the 330-foot center-field wall for a three-run home run. That not only provided breathing room for the top seeds but started a late rally that led to a six-inning 12-2 victory over the host Yellow Jackets.
"I knew as soon as I made contact," said Case, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, including his seventh homer of the season. "It was just a great feeling.
"We came in with a serious attitude and one goal. We've had solid pitching and defense all year, and now everybody's hitting the ball, so we feel pretty good."
The Pirates on Wednesday will play the winner of today's losers-bracket final between Lookout Valley and Marion County.
The Pirates (31-2) scored four runs in the first inning, highlighted by Jacob Howard's RBI triple. Howard drove in another run in the sixth and Jake Stone went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Senior left-hander Hunter Giles (8-0) struck out seven in his eighth complete game of the season.
"Hunter has been huge for us all season, and Andy's homer was another example of a senior stepping up in a big spot," said Pirates coach Wesley Stone, whose team has won all three tournament games by the 10-run mercy rule, outscoring opponents 43-4. "Toward the fifth inning I thought Hunter was getting tired so we sent Jacob [Toney] down to warm up, but that just seemed to tick Hunter off, because he came back and finished strong."