If Central Magnet's baseball team is going to make a run at a Class AA state championship, it will have to do it the hard way.
The Tigers dropped to the losers bracket on Tuesday, losing a 13-1 five-inning run rule decision to Knoxville Catholic in their TSSAA Spring Fling opener at Blackman High School.
Central (33-6), making its third straight Spring Fling appearance, will play an elimination game on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at Blackman against Lexington, a 2-0 loser to Cascade. You'll be able to hear the game on NewsRadio WGNS beginning at 9:50am. A victory would send the Tigers to another elimination game on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Blackman.
"Fortunately, we're playing in a tournament with a format like this one," said Central Magnet coach Jason Patterson. "We usually play so well defensively, but we really helped them out today."
Knoxville Catholic (27-14) plated a run in the first inning and added four in the third (three unearned) to take a 5-0 advantage.
Pitcher Ethan Elliott dominated the Tigers, retiring the first nine hitters he faced. He didn't allow a run until the fourth inning when Derek Sargent followed up a Jordan Jackson double with an RBI double off the center field wall.
"He was a pretty good pitcher and threw strikes," Sargent said. "But we made it a lot easier. We didn't play like we can defensively, and I think we kind of got down when they scored those runs."
Knoxville Catholic scored four more runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and Elliott worked a perfect ninth to close out the Tigers.
"They swung the bats well, and we knew they could going in," Patterson said. "But we helped them out a lot. We needed that to be a 3-1, 2-0 game, and I think we might have made some things happen.
"We've just got to come back (Wednesday) ready to play. ... We've got to 5-1 now (to win it).
Knoxville Catholic's Kole Cottam, a Kentucky signee, led a 13-hit attack with three hits and four RBIs, including a three-run homer. Jackson and Sargent collected the Tigers only two hits.