MURFREESBORO – Central Magnet’s baseball team is headed to Spring Fling for the third consecutive season.
The Tigers earned a return trip to the TSSAA’s Class AA state tournament with a 4-0 victory over Sequoyah Saturday in a state sectional contest at Starplex.
Chris Johnson pitched a three-hit shutout. The Tigers gave him a two-run lead to work with in the bottom of the first, and that was all he needed.
“I think it was big to get the lead,” Central Magnet coach Jason Patterson said. “We’ve played real well when we’ve scored first. When we get up, it allows to do some things to continue to put pressure on people. Chris got those two runs, and he was bound and determined that was going to be enough for him.”
The Tigers scored in the bottom of the first when Reed Sullivan singled in a pair of runners on second and third.
“We knew that if we got ahead in the first, it was going to be a good game for us,” said Sullivan. “I was just up there trying to get the two runs in.”
Then Johnson took over on the mound. The left-hander retired the side through the first two innings. He gave up a leadoff double to Sequoyah’s only left-handed batter, Dylan Russell, but then Dylan Moses hit a grounder to third that reached Central third baseman James Touchton just as Russell was trying to advance to third. Touchton tagged him out and threw to first in time for the double play.
Sequoyah’s other two hits were infield singles.
“I love being part of this team,” said Johnson. “I have a great defense behind me. I couldn’t do it without them.”
It was Johnson’s third shutout of the season and the Tigers’ 10th overall.
The Tigers added two more runs in the fifth. Mckenzie Jackson led off the inning by drawing a walk, stole second, and his brother Jordan Jackson singled him home. Hunter Canterbury also singled home a run.
The Tigers (33-5) will get ready for next week’s Spring Fling, in which the final eight Class AA teams are placed in two different brackets, and the teams play double-elimination through the tournament until the finals.
“The way guys have stepped up through the year, and the way pitchers have stepped up, it’s been so big,” said Patterson. “When you’ve got guys who play defense like ours do, they challenge guys, they make them put in play, and good things happen for us.”
Central Magnet 4, Sequoyah 0
Sequoyah 000 000 0 – 0 3 0
Central Magnet 200 020 x – 4 6 0
Blue Johnson and Caleb Miner. Chris Johnson and Hayden Locum. WP: C. Johnson. LP: B. Johnson.