Pitching continues to be the pivotal point in District 6AAA games. It’s a good thing the Pioneers have plenty of talented arms.
Jack Keele threw a complete game and Warren County added just enough timely hitting to pull out a 3-1 victory over White County Tuesday, its second win in as many nights over the Warriors.
The victory, Warren County’s sixth in eight games, moved the Pioneers to 8-8 overall and 5-3 in district play, good for second in the current standings. It also gave Warren County the series edge over White County 2-1.
Keele was a huge reason why, with his grit impressing coach Trice Powers.
“I thought Jack was real competitive. He did a good job,” said Powers. “When push came to shove, he was ready. It may not have been his best start, but he got out of trouble and kept us in the game.”
The Pioneers didn’t have a big night at the plate, but they made the most of their few opportunities.
Brooks Helton provided an early spark, coming up with a clutch two-out single in the first. Will Cantrell made it 2-0 in the second, sending a deep shot into the right-field gap to bring around John Garrett.
The Pioneers tacked on a pivotal insurance run in the sixth, getting a sacrifice fly from Wesley Jennings to score Garrett and make it a two-run game going into the final frame.
The final run, a clutch at-bat in a tight moment, stood out to Powers.
“The insurance run really changed the game. Having a two-run lead loosened things up a bit,” said Powers. “Runs are a premium in district games. The best pitchers are always going. When you get a chance to score, you have to take advantage.
“It was important to scratch the run across there.”
Keele shut the door in the seventh inning, sandwiching two strikeouts around a groundball to second base. Keele froze Chris Mills on a 2-2 pitch to end the game, his fifth and final strikeout.
Keele gave White County a glimmer of hope in the third. The Pioneer hurler hit Tucker Allen, then a wild pitch moved the Warrior into scoring position. Allen would score on Drew Young’s single, cutting the lead in half.
Keele and Macon Girdley locked into a pitcher’s duel from there. Girdley pitched out of jam in the fifth, allowing a walk to Smith and single to Cole Estes before retiring Keele and Helton to end the frame.
Keele matched his counterpart in the sixth. After a two-out double and walk, followed by a wild pitch, White County had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Keele calmly regrouped and blew a 1-2 pitch by Eli McDonald to end the threat.
The Pioneers are set to take part in the Rebel Classic over the weekend, weather permitting. Check the Southern Standard Twitter page @sstandardsports for the latest game details.