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Spring Fling update: TRA baseball defeats Webb, now two wins from state title

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TRA's Blain Curtis slides into third base with a triple that drove in three runs Wednesday night in DII-A state tournament. The Rebels defeated Knoxville Webb 7-3 are now two wins away from a state title. Photo by Jeff Ireland

LAVERGNE, Tenn. - Things were not looking too great Tuesday night after Tipton-Rosemark lost to Knoxville Webb in the first round of the DII-A state tournament.

The loss meant the Rebels would have to win four games in two days to bring home a state title, something that is clearly the team's goal.

They are now half way there.

The Rebels got strong pitching from Nathan Whitley and Gil Erwin and a huge hit from Blain Curtis Wednesday night at LaVergne High School to end Webb's season with a 7-3 win.

TRA (34-7) now takes on University School of Jackson Thursday morning at 10 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. If the Rebels win that game, the two teams will play again Thursday at about 3 p.m. in a winner-take-all title game.

"This group is focused," TRA coach Brad Smith said. "We got punched in the mouth yesterday. I challenged the guys to get back to playing loose and having fun."

The biggest play of the game came with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning.

On a 2-2 count, TRA's Blain Curtis smoked a line drive down the right field line for a three-run triple that gave the Rebels a 5-0 lead. Webb never really got back in the game after that and didn't get on the board until scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Nathan Whitley started on the mound for TRA and held Webb scoreless for four innings to pick up the win. Gil Erwin pitched the final three frames. The two combined to hold Webb to seven hits.

Logan Stewart got TRA on the board in the first inning with an RBI single. In the fifth inning, a bunt from Jacob LaFosse and a single from Xen Penny brought home two more runs and pushed the lead to 7-0.

Erwin came on for Whitley in the fifth with runners on first and second and no outs. The Rebels promptly turned a 6-4-3 double play and Erwin got Brock Beeler to fly out to keep Webb off the board.

Connor Alexander, Erwin and Stewart each had two hits for the Rebels.

LaFosse said the game TRA lost Tuesday may have been a blessing in disguise.

"Some of us were fixing to kill each other," LaFosse said. "That loss made us realize everybody who's here is good and we need to come out and play. That's what we did here today."

After Wednesday night's win, Smith was holding a sign that read "Time to Grind." There were also places on the sign for four check marks, one for each win.

"Our goal is to check them off one by one," Smith said.

Added Lafosse: "We've got two of them down and two to go."

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