The fifth-seeded Pioneers pulled off an 8-4 upset win over second-seeded Twin Springs on Friday in the consolation game of the Cumberland District tournament at Alumni Stadium.
Thomas Walker (9-12) earned the district’s third and final seed to next week’s regionals. The Pioneers will travel in the opening round to either Twin Valley or Hurley.
START STRONG, FINISH STRONG
Regardless of where coach Frank Brooks’ Pioneers go, they’ll bring plenty of excitement. They began Friday’s game with three runs to put Twin Springs (17-5) on its heels quickly.
“Our goal was to strike first and never quit,” Brooks said. “I know there were some zeros on the scoreboard and we let them tie it up at one point, but we kept battling and we put runs up and we pulled it out in the end.”
Caleb Yeary played a key role in the win. The sophomore pitcher went the distance, scattering four runs and eight hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.
“They hit my fastball some, so my off-speed is what really worked,” said Yeary, who throws a curve and a sinker. “More or less, that’s what shut them down when we needed to.”
The Pioneers lost in the opening round of the district tournament last season.
“Everybody wants to keep playing,” Yeary noted. “It’s win or die right now. So we all wanted to win and keep playing and move on to region.”
Yeary also finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Lucas Sturgill had a two-RBI single for the Pioneers. Dawson Lee, Jason Green and Peyton Redinger also drove in runs.
With the game tied at 4, Thomas Walker used two hits and two Twin Springs errors to push across four more runs in the top of the sixth to seal the win.
Perhaps Yeary’s biggest weapon while on the mound was his pickoff move. He erased two baserunners that way, and the Titans (17-5) finished with one runner thrown out at home and two at second base.
“We had a lot of baserunning mistakes,” said Twin Springs coach Jarred Finch. “I told our guys every game we’ve got to do the little things right and today we didn’t do that. We didn’t do enough of the little things right to win this baseball game.”
Finch still considers the season a success for his squad.
“It was a great year and I’m super proud of our guys,” he said. “They battled all year and the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. But that’s life.”
The game was delayed 45 minutes in the bottom of the third inning when players had to leave the field so two medical rescue helicopters could land in the infield of the track next to the diamond.
The helicopters landed so emergency personnel could load two victims of an automobile accident in the nearby Pine Camp area of Coeburn aboard to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.