WHITWELL, Tenn. - When this baseball season began, Logan Alder had exactly one-third of an inning of varsity pitching experience. But Monday night South Pittsburg's sophomore right-hander showed just how far he has progressed in a short time by helping his team wrap up the top seed in the District 6-A tournament.
Alder, part of the Pirates' youth movement this year, scattered six hits, struck out nine and walked none in their 4-1 victory over Whitwell, securing the program's third straight regular-season district title.
"He threw strikes and hit his spots," Pirates coach Wesley Stone said. "We're real proud of how far Logan has already come this season. When we started, he was probably a little intimidated, but he's gotten over that real quick and he's gone from having practically no varsity experience to a guy who is either our No. 1 or No. 2 guy. We feel real good about throwing him against anybody.
"He's been in a bunch of close games already this year, so he knows how to handle himself in pressure situations. Close games are decided by mistakes, and we're young and have booted it around at times, but with Logan striking out nine, that cut down on the number of chances we had to make a mistake.
"I'm just really proud of this whole team. To be so young and get the top seed in the tournament again is unbelievable."
The Pirates, who have just one senior and one junior on the roster and start six sophomores and a freshman, didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball -- totaling three hits -- but did take advantage of five Whitwell errors.
South Pittsburg (23-5, 11-0) scored first on a two-out throwing error in the third inning, and after Whitwell scored in the bottom of the inning on Bailey Kilgore's RBI single, the Pirates scored three more in the fourth. The go-ahead run scored when Tucker Abbott coaxed a bases-loaded walk, and two more runs followed on errors.
"Once we got a few more runs, I felt real confident," said Alder, who has a minuscule 0.48 earned run average. "I was able to hit my spots, so once we got those runs I just had to keep throwing strikes."