Dakota Fowler pitched a two-hitter and Matt Ford stroked a two-run homer to lead Central to District 6-AA baseball's regular season championship.
The Pounders bested Hixson 5-0, leaving both clubs with a 10-2 district record but Central winds up with the district tournament's top seed with a plus-three in the tiebreaking run differential.
Central hopes, though, that the historical repletion ended Wednesday night. The Pounders won the title last year and had their season ended just two games into the postseason.
"Getting the regular season title is great, an accomplishment, but after winning last year and not getting out of the tournament spoiled it for us," Central coach Glen Carter said. "I told the guys before the game tonight that there was no pressure and that we were guaranteed no worse than a two-seed for the tournament. I told them to relax, have fun and play."
Before Fowler's first pitch, his teammates had afforded him a 3-0 lead with which to work. He responded by pitching a no-hitter through the first four innings.
"Dakota pitched a great game. The way he was pitching and the way we were hitting was a good combination," Carter said. "Getting three runs early with the big bomb by Matt helped a lot."
Fowler wound up pitching a two-hitter, an effort aided immensely by a pair of double plays.
"We haven't had two double plays all year," Carter said.
Fowler was finally touched in the bottom of the fifth for a double by John Mulkey, who wound up getting both of the host Wildcats' hits.
"He kept us off balance but we hit the ball hard and just didn't find any holes. We had guys on in a couple of different innings and they turned them into double plays," Hixson coach Colton Green said.
The big blow of the night came in the first inning on Ford's no-doubt, two-run home run to left-center.
"He hit it pretty good, squared it up well," Carter said.
"He told me before the game just to clear my mind and said that's what he had tried to do," Fowler said of his pitching effort and Fowler's home run. "That was a great time for him to get the homer."
It was just the second home run of the year for the Pounders.
Both teams will be in the 6-AA tournament, which is scheduled to begin a week from today at Central.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.