Amid a slide that saw the Warren County High School baseball team lose eight of nine games, there was a silver lining. The Pioneers never fell out of the top three of the District 6-AAA standings, keeping the team out of a possible spot in the dreaded play-in game of the district tournament.
Warren County took another step Monday in staying out of the play-in game when the Pioneers downed the Cumberland County Jets 4-2 at Patrick Ramsey Field.
The win helped Warren County improve to 12-13 overall and 4-5 in district play, which is good for third place. The Pioneers sit behind Cookeville at 10-0 and Coffee County at 5-5.
The Pioneers had hit a skid in April after starting the month with a sweep of White County. After improving to 4-3 in district and 10-5 overall, the Pioneers dropped eight of their next nine games.
On Monday, Pioneer coach Adam Childs used the same method that helped the Pioneers earn two of their three previous District 6-AAA victories. Childs sent Ryan Jennings to the mound and watched the junior lefty go to work.
Jennings threw his third complete game in district play, earning his fourth win of the season in the process. Jennings allowed only five hits and two sixth-inning runs as the Jets had trouble finding any offense against the Pioneer ace.
Jennings was spotted an early lead when Warren County scored all of its runs in the first two innings. Park Hilliard got the offense started with a double in the first inning and eventually came in to score on an RBI single by clean-up hitter Chayse Frye.
Hunter Mullican helped make it 2-0 in the first inning as he was able to break up a double play by beating a throw to first. Alex Hillis, who reached on a walk, scored on the play.
The Pioneers added to their lead in the second inning. One-out singles by Logan Underhill and Hilliard got runners on the corners before Hilliard put two Pioneers in scoring position with a stolen base. Hillis did his part to make it 3-0 when he grounded out to second, bringing Underhill around.
The Jets gave the Pioneers their next run as the shortstop booted a ball hit by Frye, giving Hilliard a chance to score.
With a 4-0 lead, Warren County went into cruise control for the next three innings. The Jets put a scare into the Pioneers in the top of the sixth when the visitors took advantage of some struggles by Jennings to score twice.
Jennings allowed a lead-off walk in the sixth which led to the Jets’ first run. An RBI single made it 4-1 and the Jets weren’t done. Cumberland County had runners on the corners with two outs when Jennings was called for a balk, plating the runner from third and moving another Jet into scoring position.
Jennings made sure it stayed 4-2 when he got the batter to hit a dribbler back to the mound. Jennings scooped it up and tossed to first for the final out.
A two-out single in the seventh inning by the Jets brought the tying run to the plate, but Jennings forced the final batter to ground to Underhill at shortstop to end the game.
Underhill and Hilliard led the Pioneers with two hits apiece while Frye, Mullican and Kyle Rutledge finished with one hit each. Frye, Mullican and Hillis each had one RBI.
Warren County went for the sweep of the Jets last night in Crossville. Results were unavailable at press time. The Pioneers are scheduled to play again Saturday when the team travels to play Murfreesboro Central. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m.