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WCHS snaps 14-year regional tourney absence
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Watching the Cookeville Cavaliers celebrate a District 6-AAA championship didn’t seem to bother the Warren County High School baseball team Wednesday night.
The Pioneers may have lost 11-1 in six innings to Cookeville, but Warren County can take solace in the fact its season hasn’t ended.
Warren County clinched a regional-tournament berth for the first time in 14 years Tuesday night when the Pioneers won a best-of-three series against Coffee County with an emphatic 12-5 victory in Manchester.
The victory also gave the Pioneers 20 wins, another feat that hasn’t occurred in over a decade for the Warren County baseball program.
Tuesday’s win meant the Pioneers advanced to the championship game against Cookeville, but Warren County showed from the start the real focus is on next week’s regionals.
Regular starting pitchers Derek Brumley and Micah McColloch, along with Tuesday’s hero Logan McCormack, watched from the dugout as junior David Lee started.
Lee pitched one inning, allowing one run, before giving way to Spencer Pryor. The senior reliever nearly matched his season total in innings pitched Wednesday, throwing three-plus innings and allowing eight runs as he took the loss against the Cavaliers.
McColloch entered in the fifth, but surrendered the final two runs as Cookeville won by run rule in the bottom of the sixth.
Coach Adam Childs decided to use Wednesday to tinker with his lineup. Instead of rolling with the same order that produced 19 runs in three games against Coffee County, coach Childs inserted senior Austin Panter into the lineup.
Panter started at catcher, shifting Garrison Holmes to first and sending sophomore Lee Carden, who had two hits and two RBIs in the deciding game three against the Red Raiders, to the bench.
Panter did pay dividends Wednesday as his single in the second inning produced the lone run for Warren County against Cookeville.
While the offense lacked against the Cavaliers, Warren County was on fire from the start against Coffee County Tuesday.
Playing at Powers Field for the second time in the series, the Pioneers scored 11 runs in the first four innings, including producing four runs in the second and fourth innings.
Collin Hutchins, who had two hits and three RBIs, sparked the second-inning rally with a two-run double.
Carden’s two-run triple in the fourth helped Warren County build an 11-2 lead entering the fifth.
It was more runs than McCormack needed as the senior picked up his first District 6-AAA win of the season.
McCormack went the distance, surrendering five runs on nine hits while striking out seven.
Logan Underhill led Warren County with three hits against Coffee County and added two RBIs. Holmes, Daulton Foster and Nick Grandey added RBI hits as well to help Warren County win both games in Manchester to eliminate the Red Raiders.
Warren County will have the weekend to prepare for its regional game against the Ooltewah Owls.
The Owls won the District 5-AAA title Wednesday night, defeating Walker Valley 8-0 in the third game of a best-of-three championship series.
Monday’s regional game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.