The Pigeon Forge Tigers baseball team punched their ticket to Murfreesboro to compete for a state title with a 10-0 win over Marion County.
The Tigers move to 37-3 on the season and will get ready for their first round matchup against White House Heritage on Tuesday, May 24, at Stewarts Creek High School.
Mr. Baseball finalist Dylan Loy pitched all five innings for the Tigers, striking out 10 batters while only giving up two hits.
The Tigers had nine different batters record a hit in this one, with Riley Franklin and Kevin Fernandez making the most of their time at the plate.
Franklin would go 2-2 with 3 RBIs and would hit his 10th homerun of the season. Fernandez went 2-3 with 2 RBIs, both of his hits sailing over the fence for two homeruns in one game.
Loy spoke about how comfortable he feels taking the mound for the Tigers in these win or go home games.
“I have complete trust in my teammates behind me; I mean, there’s really no pressure on me,” he said.
“I know whenever I go out there, they go out there and they play behind me and the other pitchers just as well as anyone. If they make an error, they will make up for it, so it’s really a no pressure situation,” Loy said.
The Tigers fell short in the championship game last season, and Loy said they were hungry to go back and come back with the state title this year.
“Absolutely, we’re hunting. We’re hunting it hard, too,” he said.
Loy would only throw seven pitches in the top of the first to record three quick outs and put the Tigers at the plate.
The Tigers would quickly get on the board as Franklin would be walked onto first base and brought home by a double from Bryce Effler to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers would build on their lead in the bottom of the third as Franklin would knock one deep into left field and over the fence to extend the lead to 2-0, and two batters later Fernandez would send one over the fence in nearly the exact same spot to move the Tigers lead to 3-0.
Loy would get into a groove in the top of the fifth, striking out three Marion County batters to open the door for the Tigers to end this one early.
Fernandez would lead off the inning with his second homer of the day to extend the lead to 4-0, and this is where the hitting spree would begin.
Trevan Myers and Michael McCarter would both get on base with singles. A single from Holt Hensley would bring in Myers, and a single from Conner Catlett would bring home McCarter to move the score to 6-0.
Ben Archer would come in to run for Catlett, and the Tigers would load the bases after Tyson McFall was walked onto first. Loy would hit a ground ball to left field to bring Hensley home and keep the bases loaded.
With the score now at 7-0, the big man Riley Franklin approached the plate again. Archer would speed home after a wild pitch to extend the lead to 8-0, and a shot to left field from Franklin would bring McFall and Loy home, bringing the Tigers’ lead to 10-0 and putting an end to this one.
The Tigers are one of only two teams in the state to have more than one player nominated for Mr. Baseball, with Loy and Franklin both in the running for the award.
Franklin’s bomb in the third marked his 10th homer of the year, and he said his approach at the plate is simple.
“Most of the time you can feel it off the bat,” Franklin said. “You just look for a pitch, a fast one down the middle and try to drive it somewhere.”
Franklin said last year’s season ended with disappointment, and they will keep that in mind this year as they head to Murfreesboro intent on bringing home a championship.
Weather permitting, the Tigers first round of the state tournament will come on Tuesday against White House Heritage, and the Tigers will look to continue to win and advance their way to the championship game on Friday.