KODAK — Stellar pitching by Sevier County stumped the Tennessee High-based Vikings in Saturday’s decisive third game of the inaugural East Tennessee Summer Baseball League championship series.
Behind the strong right arm of Gage Newsom, the Cavaliers beat the Vikings 3-0 at Smokies Stadium.
Newsom’s two-out RBI triple in the second inning was one of the game’s momentum-shifting plays, but defensively was where the Cavs shined. They turned three double plays over the final three innings to keep the powerful Vikings offense at bay.
Newsom pitched six complete innings, allowing six hits and striking out four on just 72 pitches.
“(Newsom) kind of reminds me of a typical IMAC pitcher,” said Vikings coach Preston Roberts, whose team finished 14-5. “We’ve been in the regional the past three years and this looked pretty familiar to us. He pitched backwards and kept us off balance. He had great command and the defense for them was lights out.”
The middle of the Vikings’ lineup was 1-for-9.
“I credit that to the pitcher,” Roberts said. “It goes back to the old cliché of good pitching beats good hitting. We had been great offensively last week and we scored like 40 or 50 runs or something.”
Pitcher Mason Johns, who lasted 3 1/3 innings, was the only Vikings player to record multiple hits. He singled three times.
Johns had a rough start on the mound. He hit the leadoff man and needed 38 pitches in the first frame. He shook off that rocky start, however, and retired eight of the next 11 batters he faced.
Johns struck out nine batters on 96 pitches.
Newsome finished 2-for-3 and Ben Wilcoxon came up with an RBI single in the first for the Cavs, who closed with a 17-2 record. Collin Shannon had the other RBI for Sevier County, a double in the fifth that scored Shane Scott from second.
Wilcoxon was also credited with the save. He came in and got the final three outs of the ballgame.
“We had great buy-in for this thing and with it being summertime, you’re always going to lose kids to vacation,” Roberts noted. “I was very proud of our team. We treated the regular season like a developmental season and we really tried to go for it in the postseason. This is going to help us on so many levels.”