Big inning powers Pigeon Forge

Mar. 19, 2014 @ 10:03 PM

 Big innings don’t just happen.

Little plays — a perfect bunt here, a turn for home there — have to come together in just the right sequence. In a larger context, that’s Pigeon Forge coach Mike Guinn’s message this spring.

His Tigers must do so many little things right to be successful. 

“I thought we took advantage of some opportunities when they presented themselves,” Guinn said Tuesday after an 8-0 win over Carter.

“For us to be a good team, we’re going to have to do that quite a bit.”

The Tigers didn’t do it any better than in a six-run third inning that blew open a scoreless tie. The 10 at-bat inning could be remembered for Scott LaFollette’s bases-clearing double but the inning’s loudest play was just one in a string of well-executed moments.

“Everybody’s got to go out and do their job,” said Pigeon Forge’s Koleman Roach. “That’s what we did in that inning. Scott came through with a really big hit. We were behind him the whole way. We got up in the dugout real loud in that inning and I think that had a big effect on it ‘cause when we get up, it gets the whole team going.”

Roach provided his own boost, rounding third on that LaFollette double to slide home under the tag of the Hornets’ Nick Bain. While LaFollette cheered from second, Roach’s run fired up the dugout.

Two batters later, Thomas Simms kept the inning alive with a perfectly placed two-out bunt down the third-base line.

“We do a lot of situational hitting,” Guinn said.

“We put them in a lot of situations in practice — and I feel like this year’s been kind of tough with the weather — but these guys have invested over the years here.

When they come in those situations, they’re familiar with what needs to be done.”

The inning began, innocuously enough, with a Jimmy Jones single. Jones advanced when freshman Bryson Sullivan made the game’s first break.

The shortstop legged out an infield single on a ball down the third-base line that teetered down the line but stayed fair. 

Sullivan said he knew it would be iffy whether the ball would stay fair or not.

But as soon as he saw the ball on the ground, he just ran. 

“They got the momentum right in that time of the game,” said Carter coach Scott Rimmer. “Lots of times in a game between two even teams, one big inning is enough to beat you. ... They had some timely hits.” 

A pair of walks got the first run home, setting the stage for LaFollette’s deep blast to clear the bases.

Pigeon Forge was up 6-0 by the time Jones grounded out to end the inning.

It was a game turned on its head after the Tigers had sent six guys to the plate in the first two innings.

“We just feed off each other’s momentum,” Simms said. “One guy gets a big hit. The next guy wants to do the same.”