In showtime, it’s Crowe time for Tigers
The Pigeon Forge Tigers (5-0 overall) got a dominating performance from right-handed ace Wil Crowe and a trio of round-trippers in a 12-0 mercy-shortened win over 2012 AAA state runner-up Bearden Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the BSN Team Sports Classic at Anderson County High School.
A perfect game for a high school pitcher is rare, and one over a quality opponent is even more few and far between — which makes Crowe’s five-inning gem even more special.
The senior South Carolina-signee struck out 10 Bulldog hitters in five perfect innings against the traditional Knoxville power, all in front of about a half-dozen Major League Baseball scouts firing away on their radar guns behind the plate.
With his fastball in the low to mid-90s and his curveball working, Crowe was mowing through Bearden hitters all afternoon.
And, in addition to his mound heroics, the 6-3, 225-pound hurler cranked a first-inning three-run homer, which was only compounded on by additional blasts from teammates Koleman Roach and Max McCoig in the second and third frames.
In all, the early PF offensive staked the Tigers to an 11-0 lead through just three innings, and, if nothing else, served as a warning to the state’s AA baseball classification that the Orange and Black are likely even better than last year’s state tournament squad.
“Wil was very determined today,” Pigeon Forge coach Mike Guinn said Saturday afternoon. “He came out intense, a very calm intensity, and he was ready to go. He made pretty short work of it, he threw the ball really well.”
In spite of scouts from the Pirates, Cardinals, Brewers, A’s and Red Sox standing behind the plate with their eyes firmly planted on him, Crowe said he wasn’t nervous at all heading into the game with Bearden.
“All I can do is throw my game,” Crowe said before the contest started. “If I have a bad outing, they’ll come back and watch me again.”
Crowe’s confidence only grew as the game went on with Bulldog hitters falling to the wayside and the runs started piling up for the Tigers.
“You definitely get more confidence (as the lead increases),” Crowe said. “You know your team’s there and they want to play. To me, it wasn’t come out and get your best game, it was come out and do your best and your teammates will help you.”
He said he knew in the back of his mind he was perfect on the mound as the game was going, but it didn’t change his strategy on the hill.
“I just told myself to stay calm and keep doing what I was doing, because it was working,” Crowe said. “Don’t feel any pressure, and just play my game.”
Meanwhile, up and down the lineup, the Tigers’ offense excelled.
Beyond Crowe, McCoig and Roach, PF got big hits from others, including Ben Breazeale, Drake Byrd, Chase Effler, Scott LaFollette and Thomas Simms.
“We have some guys that are getting their first chance at varsity experience,” Guinn said.
“And they’re coming through in a big way. They put a lot of work in in the winter, and they’re seeing the benefits. It’s great.” But the coach said his team won’t get over-confident, despite their 5-0 start and dismantling of area-power Bearden.
“I won’t allow (over-confidence),” Guinn said. “This team has a lot of potential up and down the lineup, but we’ve still got a lot of growing up to do.”
“We’re where we’re supposed to be right now. The things I’m asking them to do, they’re doing a good job. They’ve got a good feel for how to compete. I’ve got to make sure they understand that the teams are going to get better and better the further we go down the road. We don’t expect perfection, but we do expect perfect effort.”