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Pioneers fall on road in region tourney
Braden Bottoms 5-17 at Bat CMYK.jpg
Senior catcher Braden Bottoms had a solid season from the plate, batting .369 for the season. Part of a large number of Warren County fans at Bradley Central can be seen in the background. - photo by Brad Durham

It was a sad ending for Pioneer baseball Monday night in Cleveland. 

Bradley Central shut out the Pioneers 6-0 in the Region 3-AAA Tournament that the Pioneers advanced to after competing in the District 6-AAA championship game against Cookeville last week.

There were tears from players and parents as the sinking end-of-the-season reality swept through the sizable Warren County crowd that made the trip to see the Pioneers play. Every starter for Warren County was a senior. The tightness of the team and the fellowship was evident to the end. These players enjoyed playing together, and they enjoyed playing baseball. They won 22 games together, and ended their regular-season district competition in first place.

The first full season with head coach Phillip King had more of a family feel because the seniors had played together for over a decade, and their head coach grew up in McMinnville and attended Warren County High School. There were relatives, friends, and a lot of common history between players and coaches on this team. It was a natural feeling when the seniors spoke during the season about being brothers, being a family on this team together.

Players never criticized each other, and there was genuine support. There was no dysfunction in this family. Everyone had a role on this team from game-to-game, and the players universally accepted their roles.  The end of a season is inevitable. Losing doesn’t make the end any easier, yet there are no regrets from players or coaches on this team. They enjoyed competing and representing Warren County.

This will be the last year Warren County plays in this configuration of District 6-AAA. The Pioneers will move to a new district next season with new rivals. The 14 seniors will graduate and move onto the next phase of their lives. Tryouts for next year’s team are right around the corner. The end only produces a new beginning.


HEAD COACH COMMENTS

After the game, coach Phillip King reviewed the game, “That was a quality ball team (Bradley Central). Coach Adams does a great job. They are used to winning these games. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them for a good while. Their No. 1 is pretty good. It was one of those nights. Their guy dives and makes a great catch. Line drives right at them. We had some great at bats. It’s just baseball. What do you do? The inning they have it is three, six players that hit in the outfield. That is how you win games. You joke around with kids during the season that it looks like a line drive in the books, and that is exactly what it is.”

King continued, “John came out and gave us a great effort. He has all year long. In that one inning, we had two outs and two strikes on a guy when he ends up hitting him. Tip your hat to those guys who were hitting balls to the outfield. We fought to the end.” 

King spoke about the seniors, “Those 14 guys are great kids from good families who have taught them the right things. We feel blessed to have been able to coach them. Now that they are gone, we will remember and honor them. We will have a banquet. Now it is time for the younger players to get in the weight room and become leaders. You hope it is a time to reload, not rebuild.”


OPPOSING COACH COMMENTS

Bradley Central’s head coach, Travis Adams said, “It was a one-game season. We are playing pretty good baseball. Any time we are not beating ourselves and up to par, we are getting better. Your guy had us off balance for a while. We kind of settled in, and scored some runs. That takes them out of their game of bunting and scoring runs. The big lead makes it tough for a team to come back, especially when our guy (pitcher) is dialed in.”


PIONEER HITTERS

There were hits in the game. One in the first inning, and two in the seventh inning with two outs. Ryland Holder, Kason Holder and Jace Brantley each had one hit.


PIONEER PITCHERS

John Garrett started the game and pitched 3.2 innings and gave up 4 hits and 5 earned runs. Layne Roberts pitched in relief for 2.1 innings and gave up 3 hits and 1 earned run. 


SEASON RECORD - THE 14 SENIORS 

Warren County finished with a 22-13 record. 


The 14 seniors for the Warren County Pioneers on this team were Braden Bottoms, Jace Brantley, Bryan Bynum, John Garrett, Omari Harris, Alec Hobbs, Kason Holder, Ryland Holder, Ty Martin, Brady Melton, Ben Rivers, Jared Scruggs, Westen Wilson and Wyatt Wilson.