BASEBALL: Baylor Duggan pitch

Sweetwater’s Baylor Duggan makes a play during the Wildcats’ 12-2 win over Maryville Christian on May 2 in Sweetwater.

Standing on first base, Cade Houser got a good look at Jayce Upton’s first career home run at second base. On second, Kai Correll had a good view too.

And when Upton rounded third, greeting the rest of the Wildcats and touching the plate, he moved his team a game closer to a district championship.

Upton’s home run to right field put Sweetwater ahead 14-2 over Meigs County in the sixth inning on Saturday, invoking a run rule and moving the tournament’s top seed into the district semifinals.

It also capped off an all-around showcase from Coach Travis Watson’s team. One that included a first-rate defensive showcase and a powerful night for the bats.

“I think with the deeper you have to get into the tournament the more you have to be offensive, especially when teams start to go deeper into their bullpens. A lot of the time, the offensive teams are more successful late in the tournament,” Watson said. “One of our strengths is how we have been consistently swinging the bats throughout the year. But, most of the time, good pitching is going to beat good hitting in baseball. That is why we strive on defense. Your defense and pitching have to be the most consistent.”

Ryan Littleton hit a three RBI home run in the bottom of the second. Ahead only by a run, the junior wrapped the barrel of his bat around a pitch, taking it to left field.

Upton finished the night with a team-high four RBIs, followed by three from Littleton and Blaine Watson. Blaine Watson’s sacrifice fly in the second inning put the ’Cats ahead 2-1.

He added two more in the fifth inning, doubling on an 0-2 count, scoring Upton and Houser for a 9-2 advantage.

Jake Presley slapped in a Sweetwater (20-6) run in the third inning, bunting his way onto first and bringing home Tucker Lorenz. Landen Boyd singled with two outs in the fifth inning — scoring Cooper Davies and moving the score to 11-2 Sweetwater.

The Sweetwater pitching corps allowed eight hits, two runs and struck out only two. Defensively, the hosts worked their way out of jams with three double plays.

“This was probably our best game defensively all year in terms of how we played,” Travis Watson said. “Jake Presley was kind of the unsung hero with the plays he made at first — digging some balls out of the dirt.”

With bases loaded and one out in a 1-1 ballgame, Lorenz scooped up a ball at shortstop and grabbed the force out at first before Littleton reached Presley at third to get the advancing runner.

One out in the top of the fourth another double play ended Meigs’ chance to rally. Upton caught a flyball and picked off the Tigers’ runner who failed to tag up at first.

Kai Correll allowed a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth after leading in the count 1-2. Meigs’ Payton Armour then grounded into a double play. Blaine Watson scooped up the hit, getting the runner advancing to second before relaying to first base to get Armour.

Blaine Watson started the game, going three innings, before Correll closed out the night. Sweetwater managed to keep pitch counts low, albeit through arm tightness from Blaine Watson, who threw 60 pitches and Correll tossed 41.

“The plan was to try to go with Blaine — we were going to do what it took. But he had some arm tightness — you could tell with his command. We felt like maybe he could have gone another one or two innings,” Travis Watson said. “We could just tell that his command was dropping off, so we had Kai Correll ready to go in.”

Meigs County falls into the loser’s bracket where they will face Kingston in elimination. Sweetwater will host two-seed Loudon with a chance to clinch a spot in the District 3-2A Championship and Region 2-2A Tournament.

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