John Tipton entered this past week known more for his hitting prowess in baseball.
The Baylor senior had pitched exactly two innings with no decisions. As he enters the new week, he has a 2-0 record and 16 innings pitched. More importantly, he has a win over crosstown rival McCallie, picking up the 4-2 victory Saturday afternoon.
"The difference was our pitcher," Baylor coach Gene Etter responded when asked the difference in Saturday's road win and losses Thursday and Friday to the Blue Tornado. "It was kind of lucky on our part. When we got ready to play Ooltewah on Monday, we decided what the heck and started him. He pitched the whole game."
Etter and his staff then toyed with the idea of sliding Tipton into the Saturday slot against McCallie. The football linebacker and occasional tight end responded with a seven-hitter, giving up solo runs in the first and final innings.
"He was mainly mixing his speeds," Etter said, "and his off-speed stuff -- a good curve and changeup -- was working and helped his fastball."
Tipton offered an "aw shucks" smile afterward before admitting that he wasn't likely to blow away even the weakest of hitters.
"I make sure my junk is working, because I'm not going to throw it by anybody," he said. "I try to keep the ball down and let the defense make the plays, because I have confidence in the defense."
McCallie pushed across a run in the first when Tyler Payne walked, stole second and third and scored on Christian Burnett's single to right field. It looked like the Blue Tornado were headed for a series sweep.
The Red Raiders tied it in the second, though, on Buddy Lindsey's single and stolen base, a passed ball on a third strike and an error. They went from deadlock to lead on Tyler Maxey's solo home run and Hunter Holland's run-scoring single in the third and boosted their advantage to 4-1 on Colton Jumper's sacrifice fly in the fourth.
McCallie made a push in the seventh. Tanner Buchanan lined a one-out single to right-center and Jack Williamson followed with a two-out single to left-center. Tipton then induced his 12th fly-ball out to end the game.
"I wasn't very happy with our approach at the plate. We should have been a little more disciplined, but John did a great job," said Tornado coach Chris Richardson, whose team scored eight runs in each of the two wins over Baylor. "He was probably 80 percent with first-pitch strikes. You have to tip your hat to him. Give him credit. He shut us down."