Pigeon Forge falls in region semifinal to Catholic
Pigeon Forge knew it faced a challenge by being paired against Catholic in the Region 2-AA baseball semifinals on Monday in Knoxville.
So the Tigers decided to be aggressive and get the upper hand, jumping on the Irish for three runs in their first at-bat,. But that turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon for the visitors from Sevier County.
Catholic’s senior-laden team took one at-bat to gather itself and then found Pigeon Forge pitching so much to its liking that the game lasted only five innings, ending in a 13-3, run-rule victory for the Irish.
With the win, Catholic advances to the region title game, while Pigeon Forge (24-12) looks to next season.
“We came out strong and I thought we had a good game plan, and early on, we were executing it,” Tigers coach Mike Guinn said. “But they put pressure on us and we just didn’t make some of the plays we need to make defensively. Our team just didn’t respond defensively well enough to stay in the ballgame.”
Pigeon Forge starter Max McCoig took the loss, allowing five runs on five hits before being relieved in the bottom of the fourth. But it didn’t matter who McGuinn put on the mound – four Tiger pitchers in all – the Irish produced runs.
“I tip my hat to them; they were consistent,” McGuinn said of Catholic hitters.
Pigeon Forge opened against Irish hurler Ethan Elliott like they knew him from batting practice, scoring three runs on three hits and an error. With one out, Jake Griffin singled to right, Scott LaFollette produced an infield hit, and an error put Chase Effler on to load the bases.
A fielder’s choice made it 1-0, and Anthony Baiamonte’s single scored two runs to give Tiger fans something to chant about. When Catholic couldn’t respond in the bottom of the first, that made the Pigeon Forge faithful even more boisterous.
It didn’t last long, however.
Catholic’s Turner Whitfield homered in the bottom of the second to make it 3-1, and after McCoig struggled to get a third out, John Mark Broussard smashed a three-run homer to give the Irish a 4-3 lead. Catholic then went on to produce seven runs in the fourth inning, tapping three Pigeon Forge pitchers to all but seal the win with an 11-3 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth, Catholic got the run-rule victory on two runs from an RBI single and a bases-loaded walk by the Tigers’ fourth pitcher in the contest.
The Irish scored their 13 runs on 11 hits, including three home runs, while Pigeon Forge was shut out after its initial three runs on three hits.