Warren clobbers Vinton County in play-in game

ATHENS – Justin Hill tossed five shutout innings and collected a pair of base hits to lead the Warren Warriors to an 11-0 victory over the Vinton County Vikings in a Sectional play-in game Monday night at Athens High School.

Hill was almost perfect in the five inning game as he allowed just two base hits while walking none and striking out five.

“I had real good control of the fastball and I was able to keep the ball down,” said the Warrior senior left hander. “I struggled a little bit with the curve ball early but it came around and I was able to get a bunch of ground outs and pop ups.”

After Hill retired the Vikes in order in the opening inning, his teammates wasted little time giving him an early lead as they scored a pair of runs in the first inning.

Ethan Estes led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch.

Lance Schafer followed with a single up the middle and Estes came around to score on a Vinton County throwing error.

Schafer ended up all the way at third base on the error and crossed the plate when catcher Gunnar Smith grounded out to second base.

The Warriors stranded a pair of runners in the second inning but bounced back to add two more in the last of the third, all coming after the first two hitters of the inning were retired.

Garrett Kennedy got things started with a single and Smith drew a base on balls.

David Ryan plated the third Warrior run of the game with a solid hit to left field and after Joel Estes walked, Hill helped himself with an RBI single to make it a 4-0 game.

“We’ve been off for a whole week and tried to get practices in but we were only able to hit inside,” said Warren head coach Kevin Welsh. “I was really pleased with the way the kids came out and swung the bats and played well.”

The royal blue and white blew things wide open in the last of the fourth inning as they sent 11 hitters to the plate scoring seven runs to increase their lead to 11-0.

Schafer got things started with a one-out single and scored when Smith doubled on a ball that bounced on one hop off the left field fence.

Kennedy reached first on an error and left fielder Blake Kidder collected an RBI single to make it 6-0.

Joel Estes reached base on the third Viking error of the game and Hill followed with his second RBI single of the game. Ethan Estes capped the scoring by drilling a two-run double over the third base bag to score both Hill and Joel Estes. As good as Hill was on the mound, with a little luck the south paw may well have thrown a perfect game.

The only Vinton County hitter to reach base in the game was Dakota Hashman who collected an infield single in the top of the second on a slow roller to second base and in the fifth when his fly ball to left field fell for a double when Kidder lost the ball in the sun.

“Justin really threw the ball well tonight,” said Welsh. “He’s been pitching really well and he would have loved to have thrown a no-hitter but there was nothing you can do about that.”

The Warrens bats collected 11 hits in the game including two hits apiece for Ethan Estes, Schafer, Ryan and Hill.

Welsh feels that the young Vikings will be a team to keep an eye on in the future.

“Vinton County is really young but they are going to be a really good ball team,” said Welsh of his opponent, whose record slipped to 2-22 with the loss. “They will be really good next year and the year after, we just happen to out-hit them tonight.”

The eighth-seeded Warriors (8-10) will get little time to savor their post season victory as they travel to Jackson today to take on the top-seeded Ironmen.

“Jackson is going to be a really big challenge,” said Welsh. “Hopefully we can go over there and get a win and keep going.”

First pitch is scheduled for 5p.m.