After splitting last week’s games 2-2, the Loudon High School Redskins baseball team (9-3, 4-1 District 5-2A) found a groove Monday by defeating District 5-2A rival Sequoyah High School 12-1 at home.
“I thought their pitcher (Sam) Raper did a good job, and he’s a tough pitcher,” Jason Lambert, LHS head baseball coach, said. “The biggest thing about him is he had trouble locating some of his fastballs, his strikes early in the count. We were in up-count situations throughout a lot of the game, and it allowed us to sit in there and wait on that fastball. Because of that, I think our guys were able to settle in and force some good bat swings on the ball and create a little bit of chatter with the bats. I think it was a good game all in all because we were able to score multiple runs in multiple innings.”
The Redskins took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning before scoring two more runs in the third to go up 5-0.
Loudon then broke the game open in the fourth when Braxton Roberts doubled on a hard ground ball to left field to drive in Aiden Wilkerson, Kaden Dockins and McKenzie Lunsford to extend the lead to 8-1. Roberts scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Braeden Fray.
Dawson Walker started on the mound and completed all five innings for the Redskins, giving up just one run and one error on 72 total pitches.
“I would like to be a little less in the pitch count and had about four or five walks there,” Walker said. “I’ve just got to eliminate those, and I could probably go seven innings if I eliminate those walks. We played good tonight, but we’ve still got a few things to work on but it wasn’t a bad game, though.”
Lambert credited the offense for getting hot behind Loudon sophomore Matthew Meade, who led the team with five RBIs on two hits. The Redskins have combined to score 109 runs in the first 12 games.
“That’s part of our game plan, and we’re not trying create any sort of secret game plan for our opponents,” Lambert said. “We’re going to have guys that steal a lot of bases, we’re going to maybe extend some plays by trying to an extra base on a base hit and that’s just part of what we do. We kind of teach that mentality, and we always say that base running is an attitude. It’s not just about being fast, but it’s about being aggressive and just saying, ‘I want a little bit more.’ When we can do that and we’re working hard on the base paths, we can make sure that we come and we’re putting ourselves in situations where one hit can score two runs.”
The roster is a mix of experienced upperclassmen and talented underclassmen, but the team has struck a solid balance as the season has progressed.
“There’s a lot of young kids and they’re stepping up,” Rylan Watson, LHS senior catcher, said. “They’re doing great, but we just need to settle down and take care of business and I believe we’ll be all right.”
Loudon hosted several area teams Thursday-Saturday for the annual I-75 Pileup tournament, in which the Redskins finished 1-1 with an 11-1 win Thursday against Greenback and a 6-4 loss Friday to Alcoa.
Loudon defeated Alcoa 6-4 on March 16 in the first meeting between the two.
“We actually played pretty well in that Alcoa game,” Lambert said. “That loss was on the details, and we made a few things that were small that changed the face of how that game turned out. It was one thing here, one swing there, one missed communication or one failed execution or something like that, and we lost by two and had a chance to win by two.”
The Redskins capped the two-game series against Sequoyah on Tuesday after News-Herald presstime.
Loudon will be on the road again Thursday and Friday with games against Webb School of Knoxville and McMinn County High School, respectively.