Bill Triplett and Derrick Davis are more alike than either might think. Both Triplett, the Polk County baseball coach, and his football counterpart recognize talent.
Triplett, who got his 300th win earlier this season, followed Davis' decision during the last four autumns. He put the Wildcats on Jared Allen's shoulder, and they rode the husky right-hander to an 11-3 Region 3-AA semifinal victory Monday night at District 6 champion Red Bank.
The Wildcats will host East Hamilton, which won 4-2 at District 5 champion Sequoyah, at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Polk and East Hamilton will play again Friday in the sectionals, with Wednesday's winner hosting and the loser traveling.
For the better part of four years, Allen was Polk's starting quarterback, and the Wildcats rode roughshod over most of their opponents. But he's a University of Tennessee baseball signee, and he bullied the Lions through six innings with only one hit allowed.
"He did what he wanted," Red Bank coach Trey Hicks said. "He walked six or seven, but we couldn't do anything when he did walk somebody. It was like he bore down when he walked somebody, and he was that way from the first pitch through the sixth when he came out of the game. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes when he really needed to."
Allen carried a no-hitter through the fifth and wound up with a career-high 14 strikeouts before giving way after giving up his first hit, a solid single up the middle. He threw 112 pitches.
"All I know is that I walked too many," Allen said. "Going in I was thinking just throw strikes, get ahead and stay there. I didn't do that nearly as well as I would have liked."
It was the eighth win of the year for Allen, whose two losses came against district rival Meigs County.
"Jared didn't have his best stuff," said Triplett, who'll retire at the end of this season. "He was overthrowing a little early, but Jared goes out there and throws every inning like it's the seventh and he has to close it out."
Allen left the mound with a 9-3 lead. He also went 3-for-5 with a double and three early RBIs. Collin Wimberley and Justin Webb added two hits each, Wimberly scoring three times and Webb getting two RBIs.
"Red Bank has a good ball club and we're fortunate to be among 16 teams still playing in the AA tournament," Triplett said. "We had some games early in the year where we didn't play like we're capable of playing, but we have a saying about playing in May being when it counts. We had planned to be road warriors, and now we're going home to play on Wednesday."
• East Hamilton 4, Sequoyah 2: At Madisonville, Hayden Williams gave up two hits and struck out eight, and he and Logan Templeton each homered and drove in two runs for the Hurricanes.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765.