PIONEERS WIN DISTRICT TITLE


Brent Carden got a great video of the Pioneers after they clinched the district title in Sparta.


Cross one thing of the Pioneers’ to-do list this season.

Warren County clinched the regular season District 6AAA championship Tuesday night, rocking White County 13-0 to cap off a strong run against its main foes. The Pioneers have now won 11 of their last 12 games, including five straight against district teams dating back to a 6-0 shutout over Cookeville April 13.

John Garrett was phenomenal on the bump in Sparta, throwing a two-hitter to earn his second straight win in district play. Jace Brantley powered the Pioneer offense, crushing a two-run homer during a five-run third. Brantley finished the game 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs, part of a night where the Pioneers piled up 16 hits.

Braden Bottoms also pushed his batting average back above .400 (.402) with his second 4-for-4 performance in a week. Bottoms, the team’s splendid catcher, also had a four-hit night in last week’s win over DeKalb County.

Warren County finished district play 6-2, a game better than the marks for Rhea County (5-3) and Cookeville (5-3). The Pioneers will get home-field advantage in the district tournament and will play the winner of a play-in game between Stone Memorial and White County in a best-of-3 series two weeks from now.

Coach Phillip King had a hunch that his team was going to take the No. 1 seed in the tournament no matter Tuesday’s outcome. Warren County was set up well in the tiebreaker department against Rhea County, Cookeville and Stone Memorial (which lost to the Cavs 6-4 Tuesday), but King was hoping it wouldn’t take going into the district rulebook to get a bye.

The Pioneers did exactly what their coach was looking for Tuesday – they completely dominated.

A night after struggling against White County (0-8 in district games) at home, Warren County left no doubt in Sparta.

Ryland Holder got the beatdown started in the first, knocking in Westen Wilson with an RBI single before scoring on an error to make it 2-0.

Westen Wilson made it 3-0 in the second, smacking a single to score Alec Hobbs. Hobbs opened the second inning with a lead-off double.

The Pioneers really started cooking in the third, sparked by Brantley’s deep ball. The senior jumped on the first pitch, rocketing a shot that flew over the left-field fence for his second homer. Warren County didn’t hit a home run in its first 18 games, but now have hit five in the last 10.

Brantley added an RBI single in the fourth, then rocked an RBI double in the fifth. He finished a triple short of a cycle.

Westen Wilson hit an RBI double to center in the third, while Bottoms had a run-scoring single. Hobbs also scored on a passed ball, helping the Pioneers go up 8-0.

The Pioneers put in the dagger in the fifth. Wyatt Wilson made sure the run-rule would be activated by taking home on a passed ball, but Warren County wasn’t satisfied with 10 runs. Ben Rivers smashed a two-run double later in the inning before Brantley put the final touches on the win with his third hit and fourth RBI.

Kason Holder added a hit in the game as eight of nine starters finished with at least one hit. Kason finished district play with a .409 average in eight games (9-for-22) and has a hit in 12 of the team’s last 14 contests.

Garrett didn’t need the big offensive showing, but he wasn’t going to turn it down from the Pioneers. After giving up a lead-off single, Garrett retired 14 straight batters. He did hit a batter to break up the domination in the fifth, but the Pioneers ended the game when Kason Holder threw out the guy trying to get to second after a flare into center.

Warren County has no plans of sitting at home waiting for the district tournament to start. The red-hot Pioneers will be back in action Thursday against DeKalb County. The game is set to start at 5:30 p.m.

Warren County will also play at home Friday against Coffee County, part of a big weekend of celebration for the baseball program. You can read more about this weekend’s festivities by clicking the link.

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