Jeff Ireland is The Leader's sports editor. To contact him, call 901-476-7116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With District 15-AA MVP Ty Warmath on the mound Friday afternoon at Don Chandler Field, the Chargers took on a game McNairy Central Bobcat team and squeaked out a hard fought 3-0 win to advance to the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro for the third consecutive season.
Covington (30-7) will take on Pigeon Forge (27-7) Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Blackman High School in its Class AA state tournament opener. A win will put the Chargers in a 12:30 p.m. game on Wednesday. A loss means they play Wednesday at 10 a.m. Each team plays in a four-team, double-elimination bracket, the winner of which moves on to the title game, which will be played Friday at 2 p.m. at Middle Tennessee State University.
Nolensville and Elizabethton are the other two teams in Covington's bracket. The four teams on the other side of the bracket are Haywood, Forrest, Loudon and Sequatchie County. A bracket can be found here.
In Friday's sectional McNairy sent righthander Michael Wilder to the mound and, with a mix of change-ups and curve balls, he held Covington to seven hits and three runs scattered over six innings.
Warmath (7-2) was masterful, going 6.2 innings, blanking the Bobcats (18-14) on three hits. He struck out eight with two walks and a hit batsman.
The visitors were not without their chances. Warmath struck out catcher Dru Yopp in the first, leaving runners at first and third. A second-inning lead-off double by Ben Worthey was wasted when Warmath struck out the next three batters.
The first two McNairy batters went down in the third, but a misplayed ball turned into a three-base error. Warmath induced a ground out to third to end the threat.
A single and a walk in the fifth gave the Bobcats another shot, but Warmath killed the rally with another strikeout.
The Chargers had their chances as well.
Austin Baskin singled and Brock Lomax walked in the first but were left on the base paths.
Carter Davis got CHS on the board in the second when hd doubled and stole third. Noah Walls followed with single to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Covington went three and out in the third and fourth, but Walls walked in the fifth and Landon Myers singled, but a liner to second caught Myers off base for a double play to end the inning.
Two insurance runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Baskin reached on a single and Lomax, attempting to sacrifice him to seconnd with a bunt, laid down a perfect one between first and second to reach. With runners at first and second, Drake Whitmer pinch hit for Rob Hendren and dropped a two-strike bunt between the mound and home to advance the runners to second and third.
Christian Delashmit hit a sacrifice fly to medium right field. Baskin tagged up and scored. Lomax tagged up and roared into third.
Seeing that the throw home from the right fielder was going to airmail the catcher, he rounded the base and fell, but got up and headed home. Despite being tagged out, the third baseman was judged to have interfered with his path to the base and he was awarded home plate and the third Charger run.
Warmath sat down the first two batters in the seventh. Interim head coach Chris Messer then called on Christian Delashmit, who picked up the save when a fly ball off the bat of Stone Teague nestled in the glove of Carter Davis in left center.