WHITWELL, Tenn. - For five innings Chase White kept reminding himself to be patient. Locked in a left-handed-pitchers' duel with Marion County's Preston Pickett, the Whitwell senior was hoping his one mistake wouldn't be the difference in the District 6-A baseball tournament game.
But after managing just one hit, a first-inning single, to that point, Whitwell's bats finally gave their ace the support he needed. Five runs in the sixth and three in the seventh were more than enough for White, who scattered four hits and struck out 11 in a complete-game 8-2 win.
"It was rough for a while, but I just tried to stay positive," said White, a Tennessee Wesleyan signee. "I tried not to think about it too much, that it was getting late and we were behind. I just stayed patient and kept hitting my spots, and I was confident we would eventually get some runs.
"Once we did, a lot of the pressure was off me, and I just wanted to make sure I finished it, because that's big to have everybody else rested for the rest of the tournament."
The Tigers will take on top seed South Pittsburg at 8 p.m. EDT Monday. South Pittsburg held off Lookout Valley 2-1 earlier Saturday afternoon. Marion will face Lookout Valley at 5:30 Monday in an elimination game.
Marion's Warriors broke a scoreless tie on a Clay O'Shields two-strike home run in the home half of the fourth inning. O'Shields then robbed Tyler Tate of extra bases with a diving catch in left center field in the fifth.
Whitwell began its rally when Rielly Grayson reached on an error to lead off the sixth, followed by White's single. Grayson scored on another error when Blake Nelson's perfectly placed bunt was thrown away. Austin Nesselt batted in the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice, and Bailey Blaylock, Tate and Carlton Terry followed with RBI singles.
"Chase was huge for us today," Whitwell coach Scott Barton said. "He hit his spots and stayed ahead in the count, which has been our Achilles' [heel] a few times this year."
South Pittsburg got a run in each of the first two innings and won despite collecting only two hits and committing three errors.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293