By ZACH BIRDSONG
Using just 66 pitches, Charlie Pierce was dominant on the hill, tossing a complete game no-hitter as the Tullahoma 12U Little League All-Stars clinched a 4-0 victory over Columbia on Wednesday to win the District 8 Title in Winchester.
Pierce surrendered just a pair of walks and hit another batter in his six innings on the mound for Columbia’s lone base runners of the contest. The right-hander also struck out seven batters on the night in the victory.
After winning the district championship, Tullahoma locked its seat in the state tournament, which gets underway on July 22 in Columbia. As of press time, the bracket for that tournament was unavailable.
Wednesday night was the second time that Tullahoma no-hit Columbia as the local all-stars previously defeated Columbia 11-0 in five innings on Monday to secure a spot in the district title game.
In that game, Mays Snipes, Pierce and Jaxon Sheffield combined to keep their opponent hitless. The lone Columbia batter to reach base came in the bottom of the fourth inning on the error.
Snipes got the start in that contest, pitching an inning and striking out two of the three batters he faced. Pierce followed that by tossing three innings, striking out five batters. Sheffield closed out the contest, tossing the final inning and striking out all three batters that he faced.
Prior to Monday’s contest, Tullahoma opened its district title run on Sunday with a crushing 18-0 run-rule victory over Spring Hill. Sheffield powered two home runs while Dawson added one of his own as Tullahoma won in four innings.
Wednesday night’s district contest featured a much closer contest as Tullahoma scored all four of its runs in the first two innings, being limited to just five hits on the night. However, it was a big swing by Hayden Cooper in the bottom of the first inning that gave the locals the lead for good.
After Tullahoma retired Columbia in order in the top of the first inning, Sheffield led off the bottom part of the frame by reaching on an error. Snipes followed by drawing a walk. With one out in the inning, Cooper got just enough of the ball to send it over the left field fence for a three-run home run, putting his team in front 3-0.
Tullahoma added its final run of the game just an inning later. Sheffield reached base on a one-out single before he was able to take second base on a wild pitch and steal third base. Ashton Dodd lined a two-out single to drive in Sheffield, putting Tullahoma up 4-0.
While Pierce was solid on the hill, he did get help from his defense, including two big plays during the contest. After Columbia drew a walk to start the top of the fourth inning, Snipes was able to catch a line drive right at third base and toss it to Dodd at first base, recording the double play.
Columbia had another reach base to start the top of the sixth inning. With one out in the frame, Zane Hopf made a diving play in center field that kept the no-hitter intact. Pierce got the next batter to ground out to conclude the contest.
While the local 12U all-stars get set for their state tournament run on July 22, the Tullahoma 11U Little League All-Stars open their tournament at 8 p.m. on Saturday in Gray with a matchup against Maryville.