A Perfect Evening
With rain and storms approaching Tuesday night at the state tournament, the Pigeon Forge Tigers baseball team was looking to make quick work of their first-round opponent Elizabethton at Smyrna High School.
The Tigers scored almost at will and senior ace Wil Crowe tossed a perfect game in the Orange and Black's 10-0 mercy-shortened victory at the TSSAA Spring Fling Class AA Baseball Tournament Tuesday night.
It was Crowe's second no-hitter in a row after tossing another no-no last Friday in the sectionals against Greeneville.
"It's just another game, it's all it is, just another game," said Crowe, who's quietly preached the message of a state championship to his teammates all season. "(I) do it for the team, not for myself, get the Ws, that's all I'm worried about."
Tigers coach Mike Guinn was fired up about his pitcher's performance after the game.
"He's dominating the zone with three pitches," Guinn said. "He competes so hard. He's so determined, and prepares himself so hard in between starts. This is not something he's fallen into. He works his tail off everyday to be prepared to come back.
"Bottom line is, people come out and expect to see Wil do that. This young man had a no-hitter in the sectional Friday, and (then) comes out and throws a perfect game. And these are teams that swing the bat well."
The Tigers offense scored a run in each of the first two innings before erupting for six runs in the fourth — three of which came on a Crowe three-run homer — before ending things via the mercy rule in the fifth inning.
In the meantime, Crowe — who signed with the University of South Carolina and is a definite Major League Draft prospect — was doing his thing on the mound.
The Elizabethton Fighting Cyclone hitters were off balance all night, either striking out or hitting the ball weakly in the Pigeon Forge infielder. Only two routine flyballs even reached the outfield against the Tigers' stout right-hander, who finished the game on just 66 pitches.
The Tigers, on the other hand, scored in their first trip to the plate.
Scott LaFollette led off the game with a walk, followed by a Crowe single to left field.
After a groundout moved them over, Colt Buchanan drove in the game's first run with a single to to right field.
PF tacked on a second run in the second inning on a delayed steal of home from Chase Effler, who moved on the back-end of Buchanan's steal of second base.
Pigeon Forge's big inning came in the fourth, sparked by five-straight hits from Drake Byrd, Koleman Roach, Max McCoig, Chase Effler and Jake Griffin.
The team had already plated two runners and led 5-0 when Crowe came to the plate with men on the corners.
Crowe pushed it to 8-0 in a hurry, as he lofted a towering blast over the left field wall.
"That's kind of been our M.O.," Guinn said of his team's big rally. "We've been having the big inning, and we strung our hits together right there."
The game ended in the fifth after an RBI fielder's choice from Griffin and an RBI-single from LaFollette put the Tigers over the 10-run lead after five innings threshold.
"I was really pleased with the effort of everybody in the lineup and everybody in the dugout, all 16 guys," Guinn said. "We're coming down here with an attitude...total commitment. We're going to come out here and we're going to show total commitment for our purpose. We know why we're here, we've been shooting for it all year."
Now Pigeon Forge will face hometown favorite Murfreesboro Central in round two of the tournament today at 12:30 (Central Time). Central beat Dyersburg 5-4 in the final at-bats of their first-round win before the PF/Elizabethton game on Tuesday.