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Baseball wins on the road
WCHS baseball - Baler Melton.jpg
File photo Baler Melton had a big night Monday as the Pioneers beat Moore County on the road.

Gusting winds, frigid cold and being on the road weren’t going to dampen the spirit of the Pioneers. Monday was opening night and nothing was going stand between Warren County and a win to start the season.

Baler Melton and Hayden Collins both played starring roles for the Pioneers at Moore County, leading their team to a 9-5 victory over the Raiders. Melton picked up the win by throwing six strong innings and aided his cause with three hits and four RBIs. Collins added two hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth, and pitched the seventh to lock down a save.

“It was a good team win. We took an early lead, they punched us back and our kids preserved,” said coach Phillip King, who is starting his fourth season at the helm of his alma mater. “It was cold and there were some odd winds to deal with out there. We had some dropped fly balls and missed stepping on home that cost us a couple runs, but anytime you can get a win without helping yourself out all that much, you’ll take it.”

Melton helped his own cause early by knocking in Jax King and Easton Denning with a single in the first, but Moore County rallied to tie the game at 2-2 by the end of the third. It stayed tied into the fifth thanks largely to the junior hurler.

Melton had a key strikeout to end the third with runners on first and third, then had two more strikeouts in the fourth during a spotless inning. Melton finished with nine strikeouts in the victory, picking up where he left off last year when he emerged as one of the top pitchers in the Pioneer rotation.

Melton also broke the tie in the fifth, finding enough room to land a single in against the Raiders in right field with the bases loaded. Collins and Denning extended the lead to 5-2 by swiping home on wild pitches before the frame ended.

Three errors in the bottom of the fifth allowed Moore County to plate two and creep back into the game, but the Pioneers were able to find breathing room again in the sixth.  

Moore County gave one back on an error off a sac bunt try by Tyler Adams that scored Adrian Harris (the freshman singled to start the inning), then Collins ignited the Pioneers with a big blast.

The senior got all of a 0-1 pitch, smacking it deep to right-center field to push the Pioneers ahead 8-4. Melton just missed a homer to the same part of the park three batters later, instead settling for an RBI double as his rocket got stuck in a banner at the very top of the fence.

Even though the Pioneers carried a nice cushion into the seventh, Moore County wouldn’t quit. The Raiders got down to their last out before loading the bases and eventually bringing the tying run to the plate, but Collins shut the door for good with a strikeout to end the threat.

“We have a knack for making things interesting,” said coach King stomping out the late rally by the Raiders.

Warren County finished with 10 hits in the opener. King, Denning, Harris, Adams and Aiden Miller all had one hit apiece. 

The Pioneers are scheduled to be back in action Thursday against Jackson Northside. It’s the first of three games Warren County will play in the Grand Slam Challenge, a Midstate extravaganza centered in Rutherford County. The Pioneers will face the Indians Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Oakland High School, then face Wilson Central (2:30 p.m.) and Blackman (5 p.m.) Saturday at Blackman High School.