Pioneers win Chattanooga Classic
The flip has been switched for the Pioneers. Warren County is starting to reach its potential and other teams are feeling the pain.
The Pioneer baseball team completely dominated the New Balance Chattanooga Classic, winning four games over three days to claim the title. Warren County wrapped up the weekend with a pair of dominant wins Saturday, defeating Hixson 9-5 and East Hamilton 14-2.
Overall, the Pioneers piled up 47 runs over four games, showcasing the immense talents coach Phillip King has been waiting to see come out in games.
“Winning the championship feels good for sure, but it really feels good seeing what I thought we had all along,” said King, now in his second year with the Pioneers. “It’s good to hit a stride going into tomorrow’s set. I’m just hoping it can carry over.” Along with a 6-0 win over Cookeville last Tuesday, the Pioneers have now won five straight games to move to 13-8 this season. Warren County will start a pivotal District 6AAA series Monday at home against Stone Memorial.
Coach King is hopeful the Pioneers keep crushing the ball when they get back home. In the Chattanooga Classic, Warren County was raking.
After beating Boyd Buchanan 12-1 in five innings Thursday and taking down Soddy Daisy 12-2 Friday, the Pioneers knew two more wins Saturday would secure a title. They went to work, using big bats to overpower the competition.
Against Hixson, the Pioneers took control of the game when Ryland Holder and Ty Martin hit the team’s first home runs of the season. Holder’s homer came in the fourth, giving the Pioneers a 7-4 lead, while Martin’s two-run blast in the seventh was extra insurance.
Both seniors got the perfect pitch to launch their first homers.
“I felt great at the plate all weekend – everybody did. I was looking for a fastball and he threw one waist-high inside,” said Ryland. “When I hit it, I knew it was hit hard but I didn’t know it was gone until I rounded first base. When I realized I hit it (out), I was thrilled – one of the better feelings in life for sure.”
Hixson didn’t learn to avoid the inside fastball, a pitch Martin was sitting on in the seventh.
“I had two strikes on me, so I was really just looking to put something in play. I was looking fastball and was just going to adjust to the curveball if he threw it to me, but he left a fastball belt high and middle-in over the plate. I put the barrel on it,” said Martin.
The large crowd of Pioneer fans went crazy, but Martin just focused on touching every base.
“Honestly, I was just ready to get back in the dugout with my guys after it went out,” said Martin about his reaction to the homer.
In the finale, Kason Holder wrapped up an MVP performance with a gem. Kason pitched five impressive innings against the Hurricanes, striking out four and allowing just three hits in the run-rule win.
Kason made sure the game wouldn’t last long with his hitting – the senior was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. After the final game, Kason was named the tournament’s standout player after he finished the four games with eight hits and 11 RBIs.
Like his coach, Kason realized the Classic was the place where the Pioneers started putting it all together.
“Winning felt great. The guys have been tearing it up all weekend and we’re finally gelling,” said Kason, who was Region defensive back MVP during football season. “Coach King put me on the bump and had confidence I’d get the job done. I went out there and did what I needed to for us to be successful.”
Westen Wilson and Jace Brantley joined Kason in earning individual accolades. Wilson and Brantley were each named to the all-tournament team, putting up impressive stat lines in four victories.
Wilson was 7-for-14 over four games – extending an 11-game hit streak in the process. Wilson also threw three impressive innings in relief against Soddy Daisy, earning the win against the Trojans.
Brantley was 5-for-11 with seven RBIs in the last four games. The senior also pitched twice in relief, striking out three of the seven batters he faced while allowing no hits.
Monday’s matchup with the Panthers is set to start at 6 p.m. Warren County will also play home games this week against Gallatin on Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (noon).
Warren County 9
Pioneer pitching – Eli Kuykendall (ND) 1.2 IP, 5H, 4R, 3 BB, Brady Melton (W) 3.2 IP, 2 H, R, BB, Jace Brantley (S) 1.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 2K
Pioneer hitting – Ryland Holder 3H, 2 RBI (two-run HR), Ty Martin 2H, 3 RBI (two-run HR), Ben Rivers 2H, RBI, Westen Wilson 2H, Wyatt Wilson H, Braden Bottoms RBI
Warren County 14
East Hamilton 2
Pioneer pitching – Kason Holder (W) 5 IP, 3H, 2R, 4K, 2 BB
Pioneer hitting – Kason Holder 3H, 4 RBI, Ty Martin 2H, 2 RBI, Braden Bottoms 2H, Westen Wilson H, RBI, Alec Hobbs H, RBI, Omari Harris H, RBI, Ryland Holder H, RBI, Jace Brantley H