William Blount junior Will Vance walked off the field in frustration after allowing the only three batters he faced to reach base in the sixth inning. Senior right-hander Jacob Patterson was the first to greet him near the dugout, offering him encouragement as Brandon Coggin trotted from third base to the mound and started warming up.
Patterson tossed a gem that was in jeopardy of turning into a no-decision after Vance’s struggles to find the plate, but his focus was more on uplifting his teammate than whether Coggin could escape the jam.
“I try to talk to any of our pitchers when they are down on themselves,” Patterson told The Daily Times. “Will had one mechanical thing where he was missing everything arm side. I just tried to talk to him and stay in his head. He’ll be back and he’ll be fine.”
It turned out there was no reason to stress over what was occurring on the diamond.
Coggin tossed a wild pitch that allowed a run to score but recovered by inducing a double play and then striking out West first baseman Parker Serrano to preserve a William Blount lead that was never threatened again in 6-3 victory over West on Wednesday.
“When I come in with the bases loaded, I know the pressure is on, but I’ve been in that situation before being a senior,” Coggin said. “I knew I had to get our team out of that, and I did a good job to get us out of that position.”
Coggin’s heroics was the highlight of a pitching showcase from the Governors (4-3, 2-1 District 4-AAA).
Patterson allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk over five innings five days after tossing four no-hit innings against Pigeon Forge, albeit with some command issues.
He retired the first 11 batters he faced before hitting a batter and surrendering a single with two away in the fourth. An error loaded the bases, but he got West catcher Denver Slifka to hit a weak ground ball back to the mound to end the inning. He got back to his dominance in the fifth, sandwiching two strikeouts around a seven-pitch walk before finishing his outing with a flyout to center.
“Just about everything was working for me if I’m being honest,” Patterson said. “A few things happened in that one inning because I lost a little focus, but I got back in it. I think everything felt pretty good today and was flowing nicely.”
William Blount coach Justin Young admitted that Patterson could have pitched another inning, but he wants the program to “pride itself on having a pitching staff,” so he turned to Vance. The faith in multiple guys paid off when Young handed the ball to Coggin after Vance’s disappointing appearance.
Coggin walked West right fielder Reese Marine to open the seventh and gave way to sophomore Justin Bell, who provided some much needed insurance the inning prior with a two-run home run to left-center.
Bell gave up a single to West shortstop Bo Milikin but struck out the side to secure a second consecutive win for William Blount.
“He is very talented, and the kids tease me all the time because I always say that about him, but as a sophomore in this district, it’s tough,” Young said. “He’s the only sophomore in our lineup, but you wouldn’t know it. You would think he was a senior watching him play.”
William Blount entered the season knowing it would have to rely on its arms to have success, and to this point, they have not disappointed.
The Governors hope it gets another strong pitching performance when they host Maryville at 6 p.m. Friday.
“When they throw strikes, we’ve been very successful,” Young said. “When we limit the walks and hit batters, those are the games we’ve won. We have five, six guys that I feel really good about. I’m proud of them, and it’s big because I’m an old school coach that believes in pitching and defense.”