Tigers avenge earlier loss to Sequoyah
On April 10, the Sequoyah Chiefs shocked fans of high school baseball across East Tennessee with a 9-8 upset of the previously-unbeaten Pigeon Forge Tigers.
The Chiefs (19-4 overall) capitalized on a slew of Tigers’ errors to knock off the power Pigeon Forge squad (28-2) 9-8.
Thursday night it was a different story altogether at Jack A. Parton Field as the team met for a rematch.
The Tigers swatted the ball all over the field from the plate while senior ace Wil Crowe put on a show for the cadre of Ma- jor League scouts on hand to watch him pitch.
“Obviously (the Tigers) were amped up a little bit for that team,” PFHS coach Mike Guinn said. “We didn’t play our best down there, and we wanted a little redemption.”
Crowe finished the game with a seven-inning, one-hit shutout, which saw him notch strikeouts on 17 of the Chiefs’ 21 outs.
In the meantime his PFHS teammates were getting to the Sequoyah pitching from the word go.
Back-to-back singles from senior catcher Ben Breazeale and Crowe set the table perfectly in the bottom of the first inning for fellow senior Drake Byrd — who’s recently moved to the middle of the lineup from the lead-off spot. Byrd delivered with an opposite-field two-run triple that bounced to the right field wall.
“He showed the reason he was (in the middle of the lineup) tonight,” Guinn said. “He got us on the board early with that line drive one-hopping the wall. He gets a triple and picks up two RBIs. It was huge.”
The Tigers tacked on two more in the bottom of the third on an opposite field single with the bases loaded from Thomas Simms.
“Thomas Simms had a big night, two big hits, and Josh Griffin had a good night,” Guinn said. “He was extremely effective for us in the nine-hole.
“We had a lot of guys swing- ing the bat well tonight — Colt Buchanan swung it well. There were a lot of guys up and down the lineup (hitting). And that’s a good ball club right there — a very good ballclub. They won their district undefeated (in conference).”
The Tigers got their final runs in the fourth.
After Chase Effler reached on an error, Scott LaFollette singled to put two men on base. A wild pickoff throw to first allowed Effler to come all the way around to score and moved La- Follette to third. He scored moments later on a fielder’s choice RBI from Crowe.
“One through nine had great at-bats tonight, and that was the key to our success tonight, really,” Guinn said. “Even when they made outs, it was quality at-bats. We were handling the bat very well, defensively we were sharp and pitching we were sharp — in all phases I thought we did good tonight.”
The Chiefs never threatened offensively after a two-out double in the first inning — the only hit Crowe gave up all night.
He promptly struck out the next Sequoyah hitter, stranding the runner in scoring position.
With over a dozen scouts shooting radar be- hind the backstop, Crowe was efficient and work- man-like on the mound.
“You don’t have to motivate Wil. He knows what’s at stake,” Guinn said.
The added pressure of pitching in front of people who could ultimately decide his future had no bearing on the senior’s performance.
“It doesn’t bother him at all,” Guinn said.
Pigeon Forge will be the top seed in next week’s District 3-AA tournament. The team’s final regular season game will be Monday at Sevier County in a game that should feature one of the best pitching matchups in recent county prep baseball history as Crowe will likely start against Bears ace Dillon Cate, who’s signed with East Tennessee State University.