MURFREESBORO – Central Magnet’s quest for a TSSAA Class AA state baseball title didn’t end Tuesday.
But the Tigers didn’t make it easy on themselves.
Knoxville Catholic clobbered Central Magnet 13-1 in five innings in the opening round of state at Blackman High to send the Tigers to the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Central Magnet (33-6) plays the Cascade-Lexington loser at 10 a.m. Wednesday in an elimination game. Catholic (27-14) plays the Cascade-Lexington winner.
Central Magnet must win four consecutive games to make Friday’s Class AA championship at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field.
“We said going into this thing that we could go either 4-0 or 5-1,” Central Magnet coach Jason Patterson said. “It looks like we’re going to take the 5-1 route.”
Central Magnet ace James Touchton (9-3) lasted just 3 1/3 innings with the Irish tagging him for nine runs, including six earned.
“When you come down here, everyone feels tense,” Catholic coach Adam Sullivan said. “It’s like the first hit in football. But we were able to get to him in the first inning, and then I thought our guys got a lot of confidence and we just started rolling.”
Catholic’s Kole Cottam, a Kentucky signee, doubled in Adam Aucker in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. However, the Irish broke the game open with four runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Cottam, who was named the TBCA’s Class AA Mr. Baseball earlier in the day, also hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning.
And the Tigers’ bats had no answer.
Catholic’s Ethan Elliott (11-1) tossed a five-inning two-hitter, striking out five and walking one. He threw just 58 pitches.
“There wasn’t anything special about him,” Central Magnet’s McKenzie Jackson said. “We just didn’t come ready to play honestly.
“We just weren’t on it (Tuesday). I’ll admit I wasn’t on it. Hopefully by (Wednesday), I’ll be on it.”
Central’s lone run came in the fourth when Darek Sargent doubled in Jordan Jackson, who had hit a one-out double.
Central’s loss snapped a 15-game win streak. Central hadn’t scored one run or less since a 2-0 loss to Smith County on April 14.
“We’ve played so well defensively, and just not made mistakes,” Patterson said. “They swung the bats really well, but we helped a lot of creating them. They came through with some good two-out hits.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.
Knoxville Catholic 13, Central Magnet 1
Knoxville Catholic 104 44 –13 14 0
Central Magnet 000 10 – 1 2 3
Ethan Elliott and Kole Cottam. James Touchton, Dylan Jenkins (4), Doug Davis (5) and Hayden Locum. WP: Elliott (11-1). LP: Touchton (9-3). HR: Cottam.