PF earns 2nd-straight trip to state with blowout win
The Pigeon Forge Tigers baseball team won a huge postseason tournament game ... again.
The Orange and Black will advance to the state tournament in Murfreesboro next week ... again. And senior ace Wil Crowe threw a no hitter ... again.
It was just another day in the life of the 2012-13 baseball Tigers (35-2) after their 10-0 mercy-ruled sub-state win over the visiting Greeneville Greene Devils (21-13) on Friday night at Jack A. Parton Field.
“It was an impressive night for the Tigers,” said sixth-year Pigeon Forge coach Mike Guinn, who will take his third Orange-and-Black squad to state next week. “These players are determined, they’re tough and they have a great will.”
And their Wil on the mound isn’t half bad either.
Almost lost in the circumstances of the night, Crowe tossed his fifth no-hitter of the year and missed his second perfect game of the season with a walk in the top of the third.
“Wil was just dynamic with 12 strikeouts and a no hitter,” said Guinn. “We take him for granted sometimes, because he does it so much.
“He was just a determined young man and did it all in just 70-some pitches. Pretty impressive.”
The Tigers and Crowe got off to a fairytale start with three Greeneville strike outs in the top of the first, and the Pigeon Forge bats produced the same number of runs in the bottom of the opening frame to give Pigeon Forge an early 3-0 advantage.
Right fielder Scott LaFollette led off with a walk after falling into an 0-2 count, and Crowe immediately followed with a two-run blast (11) over the center field fence for a 2-0 Tiger lead.
“Wil Crowe just stepped up and hit just a mammoth home run,” said Guinn.
“That just gave us a ton of confidence.” Short stop Drake Byrd started another rally, this time with two outs, on a base rip to center.
Third baseman Koleman Roach followed with a walk, and designated hitter Max McCoig kept his hot streak going with a hard-lined RBI base hit to center to make it 3-0 heading into the second.
“Max McCoig (who’s gone 5-for-6 the past two games) has been the man of the hour,” said Guinn. “Max has been a great lift for our team the past two games.”
Crowe kept things going the Pigeon Forge way with three more Ks in the top of the second, as the Tigers put it on cruise control for the most part until the bottom of the fourth.
The Orange and Black did manage to add a run in the bottom of the third when Byrd started his second two-out rally of the night with a Texas-league base hit to center, and Roach drove him in with a double down the right field line for a 4-0 lead.
But the Tigers really came alive offensively in the bottom of the fourth with a big five-run rally.
Chase Effler started things with a lead-off double to right center, Jake Griffin put runners at the corners with a base hit bunt, and LaFollette dropped a perfect dribbling RBI bunt down the first base line and reached safely on the play to make it 5-0.
Still with no outs, Griffin scored from third on a ball-4 wild pitch to Crowe, and catcher Ben Breazeale made it 7-0 with a RBI base hit to left.
Byrd loaded the bags with a another Texas-leaguer to left, and Roach came through again with a two-RBI line blast that likely put a dent in the center field fence, making it 9-0 heading into the fifth.
And Pigeon Forge made it the walk-off final in the bottom of the sixth.
Colt Buchanan started things with a lead-off base hit with eyes up the middle, and Byrd knocked his fourth hit of the night off the left field fence to put runners at second and third.
“I told somebody Drake Byrd would show up big tonight,” said Guinn. “And look at there, 4-for-4.”
McCoig ended it with an RBI rip to left field as he ran to first with his finger pointed to his teammates in the dugout.
“Our hitters just came out determined all throughout the lineup,” said Guinn. “Everyone in the lineup got a hit tonight.
“But if you look at our 5- through 7-hole, we were 4-for-4 with Drake Byrd, 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Koleman Roach and 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Max McCoig. That’s huge.”