The first six batters that stepped to the plate for Alcoa all reach safely, setting the tone for what would be a lopsided doubleheader filled with offense for the Tornadoes.
Alcoa cruised to a 15-0 victory in the opener before completing a sweep of Fulton with a 10-0 run-rule win in the nightcap Tuesday at Alcoa High school.
“It’s one of those things that is a weird situation because it’s a district game that we need to play, but their coaches know what’s going on and we know what’s going on,” Alcoa coach Steve Dunn told The Daily Times. “You don’t want to disrespect the game, and you certainly don’t want to disrespect anybody on the field. You just want to get your work in, make sure nobody gets hurt, find a way to get better and move on to the next one.”
The Tornadoes (13-4-1, 4-0 District 4-AA) are out-scoring district opponents, 70-8, through their first four games.
The offense was carried by Thai Love, Riley Heaton, Nate Hartless, Isaac Whitehead and Colt Whaley, who comprise the first five spots in Alcoa’s lineup and combined to reach base 25 times in their 32 plate appearances.
Love went 2-for-2 in the opener with two walks and three runs scored and then added a three-run inside-the-park home run and a double in the second game. Heaton logged three hits, including two doubles, in the first game and logged two more singles in the finale.
Hartless recorded a two-run single, three walks and a hit by pitch in the two games while Whitehead had two RBI singles, two walks and a hit by pitch. Whaley notched a two-run double and a walk in the first game before drawing another walk and getting hit by a pitch in the second.
“With any baseball team, the top of your order has to produce,” Dunn said. “Your one through five guys have got to carry the load, and then if you can get your six through nine guys to make contributions and get on base, that’s an added bonus.
“In any level of baseball, you really set a lot of things up with your top five guys, and we expect them to get on base and produce.”
The bevy of offense backed a five-inning no-hitter from Heaton, who walked four guys while striking out eight batters in the opener, and a three-inning shutout from Nate Pitts, who allowed one hit and a walk while punching out seven.
“The thing with Riley was we just wanted to work on his mechanics a bit because he hadn’t pitched in awhile,” Dunn said. “He’s so valuable to us on the mound, and also in center field, so we wanted to make sure he worked on his game a little bit. Nate Pitts did the exact same thing and worked on his mechanics a bit.
“We got done what we needed to get done on the mound, so all in all, we’ll take the two wins and start again tomorrow.”
Alcoa will not hang its laurels on its recent blowout victories over the likes of Fulton and Scott. It will return to some stiffer competition when it travels to face Gibbs at 5:30 p.m. today.
“We judge our season a little bit differently,” Dunn said. “Kingston is our district rival, and that’s the team we have to deal with, but we judge ourselves a little bit more against the teams on the other side of the region like Pigeon Forge and Gibbs and the other teams we play.
“We try to play up a lot to try and offset some of the weaker teams in our district. All in all, I think we’re doing well, but we have a long way to go to get better.”