Monday’s victory was one small step toward a district title, but a giant leap for the Pioneers.
Warren County toppled Cookeville 10-2 on the road, handing the Cavaliers their first loss in district play this season.
“The kids really enjoyed themselves and came out with a lot of fire,” said Pioneer coach Trice Powers. “We can’t get too high because we have lots more we want to accomplish though.”
Tyler Hollingsworth turned in another gem, going the distance to earn his fourth district victory and fifth overall. The senior hurler was able to outduel Cookeville starter Joshua South, who was pulled after four innings after surrendering six runs.
Chasing South – a Belmont commit and one of the top pitchers in the state – didn’t seem likely after the last time the teams squared off. In a 4-2 victory three weeks ago, South pitched a complete game and struck out nine.
Dedicated focus on the practice field seemed to pay off for the Pioneers.
“We did a good job of changing things up. We had a plan of attack against him and did a good executing,” said Powers. “There was lots of preparation. It’s a big reason why we saw some success.”
The results were evident right out of the gate.
Four of the first five Pioneers reached safely, including Jack Keele starting the scoring when he singled on an 0-2 pitch. Braden Bottoms made it 2-0 on an RBI groundout, bringing in Brandon Hennessee – who was bumped into the two hole and provided a spark with two hits and two runs.
Cole Estes expanded the lead in the third, drilling a two-out single straight to center which allowed Hunter Adams and John Garrett to come around.
By the time Hennessee scored on an error and Bottoms added an RBI single in the fourth, the Pioneers led 6-0.
Cookeville was able to touch up Hollingsworth in the fourth for two runs. The Cavaliers had three of their four hits in the frame before Hollingsworth battled out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout and groundout.
Hollingsworth dominated the final three innings, with his only blemish a walk in the sixth as he retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
“Tyler was really good at the beginning and the end. It was a gutsy performance,” said Powers.
Adams added to the scoring in the fifth, bringing in Trevor Collins with a sac fly. Adams finished 3-for-4, tops on the team. Will Cantrell added an RBI double in the fifth to push the Pioneer lead back to six runs.
The Pioneers wrapped up the scoring in the sixth, when Ethan Smith scored on a wild pitch and Keele scored Brooks Helton on an RBI groundout.
The victory improved the Pioneers to 10-8 overall and 6-3 in district play. Cookeville still leads the district with a 7-1 record.
The two teams completed their season series Tuesday at Patrick Ramsey Field. The score was unavailable at press time. For more information, check Friday’s Southern Standard.