After all of the blood, sweat, and tears it has all come down to this. After the Warren County Pioneers finished runner-up in the 6AAA District Tournament, they advanced to the Regional 3AAA Tournament. The Pioneers will travel into the eye of the storm, so to speak.
Warren County’s opponent Monday night is the Hurricanes from East Hamilton out of the Chattanooga area. The Hurricanes finished their season with a district record of 6-5. East Hamilton has endured a bumpy season but it seems the team has caught fire at the right time. East Hamilton won its District 5AAA title game over Soddy-Daisy, 12-3.
Warren County has really heated up at just the right time of the season as well. Before the 6AAA title game loss against Cookeville, dropped by only a single run, the Pioneers had rolled off four straight wins, all versus Rhea County. In all, a total of 37 runs off 32 hits were posted by Warren County in its last four games versus the Golden Eagles.
The Pioneers have a lot of players who are hitting the ball well. Taisei Yasunaga doubled twice in the championship game but had been solid in his last few games prior to the district title game. Colby Elkins showed he can go yard with two home runs in the same game and Pioneer fans know Chayse Frye has the power to go deep. Isaac Golden and Lucas Rogers are also high atop the team leaders in base hits for the season.
Leading in base hits just from the last four games prior to the title game are Jordan Tidwell with eight, Yasunaga and Frye each had six hits.
The Pioneer pitching machine, Will Sweeton, the side-armed slinger, in his last two appearances allowed four runs, 10 hits and had five strikeouts. Cameron Shaw has only allowed seven runs, 12 hits, and two strikeouts and Tyler Prater showed in the championship game, he can enter a high-pressure situation and compete at a high level.
Warren County had two key players potentially out in the very first home game of the season. Lucas Rogers who played second went down with a foot injury and Colby Elkins at third base was hit in the face with a ball. Both received treatment and both were cleared to play shortly thereafter.
Since then, the Pioneer season has been a wild up-and-down ride of wins and losses. Warren County found success early in the season with back-to-back wins in the district versus Stone Memorial and Cumberland County.
A brief summary of who to watch out for at East Hamilton is right fielder Josh Aslinger. Aslinger blasted not one, but two, three-run home runs in the title game for the Hurricanes. East Hamilton piled on 15 hits in the assault against Soddy-Daisy, which was the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament.
Three other Hurricanes, Matt Militia, Matt Watters, and Kyle Cox each had two hits in the 12-3 win. Nick Woods can hit and throw as a starting pitcher, Woods threw a complete game and allowed three runs off five hits, not to mention going 3-for-3 at the plate.
If the Pioneers can keep mistakes to a bare minimum and play smart defense it should turn out to be a memorable game.