Tigers win 1AA Region championship with 2-0 win over Union County | Sports

The Pigeon Forge Tigers continue their winning ways into the postseason, and with a 2-0 win over Union County, were crowned Region 1AA champions and are now one win away from punching their ticket to Murfreesboro to compete in the state tournament.

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ETSU commit and Mr. Baseball finalist Riley Franklin started on the mound for the Tigers, and in his six innings pitched would strikeout nine batters while only giving up two hits. The Tigers had an unusually tough night getting on base, with Kevin Fernandez being the only Tiger to get on base more than once, going 1-2 with an RBI and being walked in his other appearance at the plate.

“We just have to be opportunistic, and get hits when we need them. We struggled with that tonight a little bit, but we came through when we needed to,” Tigers head coach Mike Guinn said.

“We got what we needed when we needed it, and we pitched really well against a tough team that knows us really well. You play a team four times, they know you pretty well and they had a good plan,” he said.

In the top of the second, Franklin would start to get in the groove, striking out two batters, and picking off another at first to retire the side. It wouldn’t be until the bottom of the third that the Tigers would record their first hit and put points on the board.

Dylan Loy and Bryce Effler would get on base after being hit by pitches, this caused Union County to bring in another pitcher. Kevin Fernandez would be the first batter that the new pitcher would see, and after watching the first pitch go by, he would knock a ground ball into left field and bring Loy back home to take a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers would hold onto their lead, with Franklin recording another four strikeouts, but they wouldn’t be able to build onto their lead. This was the case until the bottom of the sixth inning, starting with Trevan Myers who would reach first after taking a pitch right to the elbow.

Myers would safely steal second base, and would advance to third after a single from Holt Hensley. An error from Union County would give Myers the time to sprint home and finally add another run to the board, extending the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.

One of the few teams who can replace one Mr. Baseball finalists with another one, the Tigers would bring in Loy to relieve Franklin in the top of the seventh as Franklin was nearing 110 pitches on the day. Loy would only need eleven pitches to sit down three Union County batters in a row to put an end to this one and advance to the Sectional round with a 2-0 win.

With this win, the Tigers bring home their first regional championship since 2018, and will retain their home field advantage for the state qualifier match up where they will host the Warriors of Marion County High School on Friday, May 20, at 6 p.m.

Guinn spoke to how important it is to stay at home when they’ll playing for a chance to advance to Murfreesboro.

“It’s huge; we want to be here,” Guinn said. “We’re going to go with our dude on the mound. Dylan will be on the mound for us Friday; he’s ready to go, he’s fresh. The team will play great behind him and I expect us to hit the ball really well.”

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