Tullahoma plated a run in the top of the first inning and then added one more score in the sixth, sealing a 2-0 win at LaVergne to lead off the new season with a victory on Monday.
Hollis Fanning got the win on the mound, tossing a complete-game two-hitter for the Wildcats. In his seven innings on the hill, Fanning allowed just the pair of hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters.
“I just think Hollis is a big kid who throws hard,” said THS Head Coach Phil King. “A lot of times, he can be overpowering. There are going to be some times where you’ve really got to work, but tonight, there were a lot of bats that were behind and slow.
“If you can throw strikes and work ahead, you’ll be OK … Anytime you can have a guy go out there and go complete, that helps us out for the rest of the week.”
Fanning got into trouble just once on Monday night, in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Wolverines had a pair of runners reach base on base hits with one out in the frame. However, Fanning struck out both Gerardo Lopez and Trevor Crymes to get out of the inning unscathed.
The THS pitcher allowed just a pair of runners the remainder of the way, both off of walks, including one in the bottom of the fifth inning. However, a defensive play by Wildcats’ catcher Tommy McCullough got Tullahoma out of the inning. On a two-out steal attempt, McCullough gunned down A.J. Gudiel, getting the Wildcats out of the frame.
Lopez worked a one-out walk for La Vergne in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, Fanning struck out Crymes, before getting Bo Darnall to pop up to Wildcats’ second baseman Race Marin to end the contest.
“Kudos to Hollis for having a great game,” King said. “Tommy also had a great game behind the plate where he made a bunch of big plays.”
Tullahoma grabbed the lead early with a run in the top of the first inning on Monday. Marin reached base on a one-out double to left field. Levi Langham followed with a line-drive to center field that plated Marin. On the throw to home, Langham was caught advancing to second base, clearing the bases.
After being held off the basepaths for the next four innings, the Wildcats loaded the bases to start the top of the sixth inning. Rhett Birdsong drew a walk to start the inning, before Brice Fulcher was hit by the pitch and Jared TeVrucht reached on bunt-single.
In the next at-bat, Marin hit a sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Birdsong to race home, making the score 2-0. That was the only run the Wildcats could get in the inning, as Langham struck out in his at-bat and Cam Hargrove grounded to first base to end the scoring threat.
“We were able to get the one in the first, which was huge … That was good to tack on one at the end, because anything can happen in a one-run game, because they could square one up or whatever,” King said.
Braydon Hagewood got the start for the Wolverines on Monday and held the Wildcats off balance the majority of the night. Hagewood ended his night with six innings pitched, striking out eight batters, and giving up two runs and two walks off of three hits.
“What we’ve got to do going ahead is, we’ve got to cut down on strikeouts,” King said. “I think we were a better hitting team than that. But against a pitcher like that, who has a really dirty breaking pitch, we’ve just got to make those adjustments.
“The good things is, with all of these games this week, at least we didn’t roll right into district off the bat. So, it gives us a chance to get some of those kinks out and some of those things that we need to work on.”
Following Monday’s season-opener, Tullahoma was slated to host Lebanon on Tuesday. As of press time, the result of that game was unavailable.
The Wildcats were then slated to travel to Oakland on Thursday for a 6 p.m. contest. Tullahoma was then scheduled to travel to Blackman on Friday at 6:30 p.m. THS will then head to Smyrna on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. start.