By Thomas Sellers Jr.
There was a buzz around Rebel Field last Tuesday night with the opening night of the Division II-A Regional Baseball Tournament in town.
As fans filed in by the dozens, the host Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels appeared calm, cool and even collected. The Rebels’ mood continued to be business as usual beating the University School of Jackson Bruins 5-0 to advance to the championship game and earn a host spot for Sub-State this week.
“I am proud of these guys,” TRA Head Coach Brad Smith said. “This team, it just something special about this group of kids. Not just one of them, or two of them or three of them. It’s all 30 of these kids.
“They prove it to me a little bit more each day,” he added. “I’m just happy they get to play for a championship, a Region championship. Something that our school has never accomplished.”
To get to the title game, the Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Logan Stewart singled in Blain Curtis.
TRA starter Gil Erwin shutdown the Bruins in the first two innings. The junior hurler got more run support in the second inning when senior Xen Penny crushed a home run down the left field line making the tally 2-0.
A few batters later, Curtis stroked a triple driving in teammate Nathan Whitley.
Ahead 3-0 by the fifth inning, the Rebels got two more runs when Stewart scored on a passed ball and Erwin stroke a base hit to score Jacob LaFosse.
Erwin helped is cause from the plate. Meanwhile on the mound he got stronger and stronger keeping the Bruins off the scoreboard.
“He was huge tonight,” Smith said. “He wasn’t pounding the zone the way I would like him to early in the game. But big time pitchers make big time pitches in big time situations. That’s what I just told him and that’s what he did tonight.
“He just threw a very good baseball game against them on a big stage,” he continued. “We have people all over our complex hooting and hollering. And he did a hack of a job.”
TRA advanced to play in Sub-State hosting the round with a chance to reach State. Smith said no matter what at stake, the Rebel coaching staff has prepared the players for any moment.
“These kids love to compete and they’re loose,” Smith said. “They’re having fun playing the game of baseball. We as coaches have coached the kids up. Now you have to let them play.
“We’ve coached them up all that we can and now it’s time to let them play,” he concluded. “Let them do their thing, stay loose and stay focused. These kids have done a great job of that this year.” The great year continued with the Rebels winning the Region championship and earning the No. 1 seed in the Sectional round this week.