|Road less traveled sees Twisters to title |
The road less traveled may have cleared the path for Union City to claim the District 14A championship Thursday.
Union City pitcher Craig Lowrance rounds third to see if he has an opportunity to score during the Twisters’ 7-0 triumph over Trenton in the District 14A Championship game Thursday.
The Twisters (16-14-1) took a beating record-wise in the first two weeks of the season with head coach David Barker scheduling games against what he termed as high-level competition.
However, it was the experience gained from those games in the team’s 1-8-1 start that Barker attributed to the success of his squad throughout the 14A tourney and during Thursday’s 7-0 triumph over Trenton — a victory that gives UC hosting rights in the Region 7A Tournament Monday against McKenzie (23-9) at 6:30 p.m.
“Obviously, we wanted to build a system where we played top-notch opponents very early on in the season and that’s what we did,” Barker said after his team’s second 14A title win in three years. “We may not have performed well in those games, but I believe it was the fact that we had played quality competition that helped us win this title.
“I don’t think without us playing the competition that we did early on that we would have been able to win both of the close ones that we had here in the district tournament.”
Though Thursday’s game didn’t fall into that “close one” category like Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Peabody or Saturday’s 2-1 edging of Halls, it did cement Craig Lowrance’s standing as the tournament’s co-most valuable player with his battery mate Taylor Bruff.
Lowrance (3-0) tossed six innings of one-hit baseball with eight strikeouts en route to earning the mound win.
“Craig has been such a plus for us this season since he has been cleared to pitch,” Barker said. “A lot of pitchers will go out there and try to strike everyone out, but he trusts the defense so much that he doesn’t have to do that.”
Lowrance was also a force at the plate in Thursday’s triumph with a 3-for-3 outing highlighted by a three-run triple in the bottom of the second.
Meanwhile, Bruff was hit by a pitch, walked, doubled and scored two runs in the Tornadoes’ title triumph.
“Coming into this game, I think Taylor was hitting something like .600 for the tournament,” Barker explained. “He struggled some during the regular season and maybe didn’t have the year that he would have liked to, but he has turned it up a notch in the postseason and made up for missed opportunities.”
On Thursday, Union City’s runs came with a pair in the first, four in the second and one in the fourth.
The Twisters jumped on starting Tide pitcher Hunter Whitby at the start of the home half of the first inning and never relented, chasing him from the game after just 1 2/3 innings.
In that opening frame, Bruff doubled, while all-tournament team member Colton Speed dropped down a bunt single to put two on with no one out.
Second baseman Ben Woods reached on an error and chased Bruff home in the process with Lowrance then singling to right field to plate Speed for the second run.
In the second inning, all-tournament team member B.J. Marshall was hit by a pitch to start the frame with Bruff walking to put a pair on.
After a Speed strikeout, Woods poked a single up the middle to load the bags for Lowrance.
The UC hurler then knocked his triple, which chased Marshall, Bruff and Woods around and gave the locals a five-run cushion.
Following the completion of the game, Lowrance was adorned with one final All-District 14A team (regular season) nod along with teammates Bruff, Speed and Camron Sherwood, who has been shelved due to multiple concussions.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.