BY JESSE SMITHEY
MURFREESBORO — After dropping its first game Wednesday, 13-6, to Summertown, the Greenback baseball team responded in the clutch in the night cap.
The Cherokees fended off Lake County, 6-5, to advance into Thursday’s Class A state semifinals where they will face off against Summertown (30-10) again.
This time, Greenback (30-10) must beat Summertown twice to advance to Friday’s championship game. It’s the same scenario the Cherokees faced a year ago. They fell to Columbia Academy, though, 13-1 in the semifinals and weren’t able to force an if-necessary game.
Greenback returns to that round because of its fourth-inning production Wednesday against Lake County. The Cherokees broke a 2-2 tie with RBIs from Austin Burger, Cole Riddle, Bryce Hanley and Reese Plemons. Cole Riddle led the offense with a 2-for-3 day with two runs and two RBIs. Plemons went 4-for-6 in two games Wednesday and drove in four runs.
Lake County scored 3 in the top of the seventh but Seth Riddle got Ty Parmenter (0-for-4) to pop out to right field and end the game.
LOUDON, PIGEON FORGE ELIMINATED
The Pigeon Forge baseball team entered the week with plenty of confidence, having eliminated the defending Class AA state champions (Greeneville) in the sectional round; however, the Tigers dropped their first two games and were eliminated.
Covington beat Pigeon Forge, 6-3, on Tuesday. Facing elimination Wednesday morning, Pigeon Forge was ousted by Elizabethton, 4-2.
The Tigers left a combined 11 runners on base in their two games.
Meanwhile, Loudon won its opening game Tuesday, 4-0, defeating Sequatchie County in 12 innings. Senior pitcher Nathan Hickman pitched seven perfect innings in that game, striking out 13.
The next day, Loudon couldn’t figure out Forrest’s Cody Sick early Wednesday afternoon and fell, 5-1. That meant the Redskins had to beat Sequatchie County on Wednesday night to advance to the Class AA state semifinals.
They came close. McKenzie Lunsford’s RBI-triple and Lunsford’s run on a wild pitch cut Sequatchie’s lead to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth. But in the seventh, Loudon went quietly, 1-2-3, to exit the tournament.
The Redskins left nine runners on base Wednesday night.