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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
COALFIELD - Coalfield’s 10-year anniversary of their state championship in baseball could be special. The Jackets (1-2) took a big step in proving they should be considered one of the top Class A teams in East Tennessee after a convincing 15-5 six-inning win over Rockwood last Tuesday.
The Tigers (4-1) were only run-ruled one time all last season and that was a 14-3 loss to state runnerup Jackson Christian.
“We played well on defense. They (Rockwood) helped us out a little bit on offense, they walked quite a few tonight. We’re starting to come around and hit the ball. We’re getting those hits in the clutch when we need them,” explained Coalfield manager Jason Wilson.
“This is a big win for us. This will be a confidence builder for us.”
Coalfield junior Matt Johnston pitched and hit the Jackets to their first victory of the 2008 season as they handed Rockwood their first loss of the campaign.
“Matt (Johnston) stepped up big for us both on the mound and at the plate. I’m expecting big things from him this season,” said Wilson.
Rockwood broke out with a four-run first inning after Beau Mayton and Bryant Allen ripped doubles.
“We give up four runs in the first inning, but we had an 'e' and give them two there and should have been out of it,” offered Wilson.
Coalfield starting pitcher Matt Johnston took blame for a tough first inning, but settled down to hold the potent Rockwood bats at bay the rest of the way.
“I just didn’t throw very good pitches and I just didn’t do very good. I just started throwing over the top and started throwing strikes,” said Johnston.
Coalfield scored a run in the first after Logan Alley brought home Taylor Newberry on a single and then added another run in the second when Cody Key drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in Tyler Walls to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Jackets then broke open the floodgates in the third inning and exploded for 10 runs. During the inning, Coalfield collected seven hits and drew five walks. Alley provided the biggest hit when he drilled a three-run homer over the fence in left field. Matt Johnston and Brandon Evans each added two hits in the inning to help build a 12-4 lead.
Rockwood’s Shane Doughty scored in the fifth to pull them within 12-5, but Coalfield’s Johnston sent a pitch over the fence in the bottom of the fifth for a 13-5 lead.
“It was an up and in fastball. I just kept my head on it and drilled it,” explained Johnston about his first homer of the season.
The Jackets ended the game early in the sixth when Alley ripped a base hit to score Noah Melton for a 15-5 win. Earlier in the inning, Newberry brought home Austin Hicks on a single.
Coalfield’s 13-hit attack was led by the hitting trio of Logan Alley (3-4, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 runs), Matt Johnston (3-4, 1 HR, 3 runs, 2 RBI) and Brandon Evans (2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI). Taylor Newberry (1 2B, 1 RBI) and Austin Hicks (1 RBI) each scored two runs, while Corey Key (1 run) and Tyler Walls (1 run) each drove in two runs.
“It was a good day for Logan (Alley). He had been in a little slump lately, but I think he is going to have a great season,” said Wilson.
Bryant Allen (2-4, 1 2B, 1 run, 1 RBI) and Zach Duncan (2-3, 1 2B) led the way for the Tigers.
Johnston (5.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 BB) earned the win, while Cody Key came on relief and got the final two outs for the Jackets.
“Matt (Johnston) did well. We still have to work on him hitting his spots a little bit, but he is going to get better throughout the year. Cody (Key) came in and did a good job of closing it out the last inning for us,” said Wilson.
Coalfield traveled to Lee University last Thursday and suffered a 3-0 loss to Class AA Meigs County.
Taylor Newberry and Cody Key collected the only two Coalfield hits.
The Jackets played Wartburg on Monday and Tuesday in a pair of big District 4-A baseball games.