SMYRNA — The pitching game plan went out the window after the first inning for Pigeon Forge baseball in its 8-5 win against Forrest on Wednesday in the second round of the Class 2A state tournament.
Tennessee commitment Dylan Loy got the start, but coach Mike Guinn intended to end his day after a single inning to preserve him for future games in the double-elimination tournament. Then sophomore pitcher Trevan Myers gave up two runs in the bottom of the second inning and had runners on second and third. Guinn decided to bring Loy back in for the final out.
“We were taking our best pitcher and putting him up against the strongest part of their lineup,” Guinn said. “And he negated them. It just didn’t really work though because I had to use him more than I wanted to.”
STATE BASEBALL SCHEDULE:TSSAA baseball state tournament 2022 schedule for Spring Fling
SPRING FLING UPDATES:TSSAA Spring Fling 2022: Live updates from Tennessee high school state tournaments
DAY ONE:TSSAA Spring Fling top moments: Alcoa and Greeneville state track champions, Austin-East soccer upset
Pigeon Forge (39-3) ultimately switched pitchers eight times, moving Myers from pitcher to third base, and Loy from pitcher to first base. Loy threw 77 pitches — two pitches above the cutoff for two days of rest per TSSAA pitch count rules. Because he must rest three days, he will not pitch again in the state tournament.
“I can’t (explain what was going on). It was definitely not planned,” Loy laughed. “But I feel completely confident in our pitching staff. Sometimes stuff happens, like Trevan the way he threw, that wasn’t him, and we all know that he will come back out and he will show up the next game he throws.”
The Mr. Baseball finalist was spectacular both on the mound and at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a run while tossing 10 strikeouts and allowing a single hit.
Guinn said he didn’t regret using Loy more than he planned, because winning the game was ultimately more important.
“He plays this game with a pure joy,” Guinn said. “He has a joy that I saw in the ’70s and in the ’80s, and some of the players over the years have lost that joy. He could play in any of those eras. It’s pretty hard to beat that guy and I’ll just say he’s one of the best pitchers in the state.”
Pigeon Forge moved into the winners bracket final and will play for the state championship with one win on Thursday.
The longtime Tigers coach was frustrated with his team’s performance despite the win. His emphasis in the post-game huddle was on taking accountability and improving attitudes.
“We want to take ownership as a team and individually of our piece of work, because life’s about that,” Guinn said. “You can’t let emotion get involved in it, and I think we did that a little today. When you take the emotion out and you play the game the right way, the better team wins.”
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eaadams6.