The Lipscomb Academy baseball team advanced to the Region 5-AA championship and clinched a sectional berth with Monday afternoon’s victory over visiting Sycamore.
The Mustangs’ 6-1 triumph over the War Eagles was also a major milestone, marking career win No. 900 for Coach Ernie Smith.
“To be honest I didn’t even know it was coming until a little while ago,” Smith said. “Somebody slipped, but my wife (Regina) is in charge of all that. I was thinking more about winning this game because now we know we’re in the region finals and the sectionals, too.”
The 2015 TSSAA Hall of Fame inductee’s coaching resume includes seven state championships, 29 district titles, 19 region titles and 16 state tournament appearances in his 38 seasons in charge.
Lipscomb assistant Charlie Hale has been with him for all but one.
“To be honest, (win No. 900) was about the furthest thing from my mind,” Hale said. “We were concentrating on winning the game.”
Added Smith, “I’ve been doing this for 38 years, and he’s been with us for 37. He’s been through it all, he’s been just as responsible for it, and he deserves credit. He’s in the background a lot.”
With Monday’s win, the Mustangs (28-2) advance to Wednesday’s Region 5-AA semifinal against Martin Luther King — a rematch of last week’s District 10-AA championship, which Lipscomb won on Burgess Rye’s seventh-inning walk-off grand slam.
The Royals defeated 9-AA champion7-2 Monday.
Lipscomb, which faced an early one-run deficit on Monday, seized control with Wesleytwo-run double to right center-field, keying a four-run, four-hit inning frame for the Mustangs.
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but they’re a great team and well coached,” Sycamore coach Daniel Smiley said. “We can walk off the field saying we definitely got beat today; we didn’t beat ourselves.”
Sycamore (15-20) threatened in the fifth, putting runners on first and third with one away, but Lipscomb’s Ericstruck out the final two batters to escape the jam. He proceeded to set down the final six Golden Eagle batters in order.
“It meant a lot,” said, who was credited with the win after his compete-game seven strikeout effort. “I honestly didn’t know (Smith) was at that milestone yet, but it was cool to pitch in his 900 win for sure.”
Reach Michael Murphy at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @_ .