SMYRNA – Zach Rogers ended his state tournament slump with one swing of the bat Wednesday evening. In so doing he helped ensure that Lipscomb’s baseball season continued.
Facing elimination for the first time, the Mustangs led from start to finish, beginning with Rogers’ three-run home run in the top of the first, and defeated Dyersburg 10-4.
In so dong, they and earned a rematch with Knoxville Catholic, which defeated them 10-9 earlier in the day and forced them to play Dyersburg, a team they defeated a day earlier in the opening game of the tournament.
Lipscomb (29-8) will need to win twice Thursday (the first game is 3 p.m.) in order to earn a spot in the Class AA championship game but will be eliminated with one defeat.
“(Rogers’ home run) really did sort of jump-start us,” coach Ernie Smith said. “We needed that. … He did help us get a cushion where we could do more, so that helped. (Dyersburg) has a good team, and that first game (with Knoxville Catholic) was so draining, physically and emotionally.”
The Mustangs gave up four runs in the top of the first against Knoxville Catholic (31-6) and trailed the entire way. They scored in five of its seven at-bats, though, and trailed by no more than two at the end of any inning.
In direct contrast, Rogers’ home run against Dyersburg (26-14) made it 3-0. One inning later that margin was 6-0.
“I’ve been in a slump pretty much the whole state tournament until that one,” Rogers said. “I’m going to try to build off it and try to come out (Thursday) swinging the bats a little better.”
Pitcher Ryan Emery saw to it that Dyersburg had little opportunity to answer. He struck out six of the first seven batters he faced and 10 in all as he pitched a complete game. He got a little wild in the third, when he walked two and allowed a run but allowed just one hit and one walk in the final 3.1 innings.
He did all of that with minimal rest, having last pitched four days earlier.
Now it’s up to the entire team to do something similar.
“We’re playing for a lot right here,” Rogers said. “We know what’s on the line since we were here last year. We’re going to regroup and come out (Thursday) ready to play baseball.”
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