The coaching staff didn't know if Matt Allen would be at his best. For that matter, South Pittsburg's coaching staff didn't know how well Jacob Toney could play or how long.
The two seniors gave it their best, and it was more than enough in the Pirates' 13-2, five-inning baseball victory over District 6-A rival Lookout Valley.
Allen worked out the tender spots in his pitching elbow and delivered a two-hitter while No. 1 pitcher Toney continued his recovery from the flu by knocking in four runs in a 2-for-4 night that included a home run to near straightaway center field.
"The first couple of innings I struggled some. My timing was off a little bit," said Allen, who got stronger and better as the game progressed.
He allowed a single in each of the first two innings and surrendered two earned runs in the second before settling in to throw no-hit ball the rest of the way. He struck out six, including the final three in the fifth.
"He threw it well, but then he has been consistent and given us a chance to win each time out," Pirates coach Wes Stone said.
He wasn't too shabby at the plate, either, his two-run homer to right boosting his team to a five-run lead in the second. The Pirates banged out nine hits in their five at-bats.
"Some days we hit it and some days we don't," Stone said.
Toney's three-run homer capped a five-run fourth when the Pirates batted around and took a 11-2 lead.
"He has been hitting well but some of them have been right at people, but he's the extra-base-hit type guy," Stone said.
Lookout Valley committed six errors while getting one hit each from Vann Scribner and C.J. Horton and RBIs from Scribner and Austin Stansifer.
"Our pitcher [Caleb Timmerman] threw a lot of ground balls. He missed on two spots, and that's when they hit the home runs," Yellow Jackets coach Wes Caldwell said. "We have struggled getting good two-strike battles, but we had competitive at-bats tonight.
"As bad as it hurts to get beat like that, I saw some things done that we had needed to do. We're 18 days before the district tournament, and I saw some things to be encouraged about."
South Pittsburg is in command of the 6-A race but still has a game this afternoon at home against the Jackets and then a two-game series next week against Whitwell, which is second behind the 9-0 Pirates with an 8-2 record.
"The way it's shaping up, that could be for the No. 1 seed in the district," Stone said.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...