Rebels share lead as 4AAA race hits stretch

Maryville junior Jacob West connects on one of a team-best six home runs for the Rebels this season.

Photo by Jenifer Clark

Maryville junior Jacob West connects on one of a team-best six home runs for the Rebels this season.

Rebel right-hander Dalton Curtis delivers to the plate against William Blount earlier this season.

Photo by Jenifer Clark

Rebel right-hander Dalton Curtis delivers to the plate against William Blount earlier this season.

William Blount junior Hunter Saunders slides into second as Alcoa’s Brennan McMurray awaits the throw in a game earlier this season. Tornado junior Nathan Waters is at left.

Photo by Jenifer Clark

William Blount junior Hunter Saunders slides into second as Alcoa’s Brennan McMurray awaits the throw in a game earlier this season. Tornado junior Nathan Waters is at left.

Nothing is harder to come by in high school baseball than good starting pitching.

Maryville High School’s Rebels lost a true gem when tall, hard-throwing right-hander Kaleb Moore (Volunteer State) left for the college ranks following last season.

Sporting a four-man rotation all with ERAs at or below 3.00, coach Jim Gaylor’s club was right there with perennial frontrunner and defending Class AAA state champion Farragut when the Admirals came calling for Round 2 this season.

The Rebels and Admirals, both out front of District 4AAA with matching 4-1 league records with two weeks of the regular season remaining, battled for outright supremacy on Wednesday at Maryville College after Blount Today had gone to press.

Senior right-hander Tommy Wilkinson anchors the Maryville staff with a 2-2 record and a 1.14 earned run average in 30 2/3 innings pitched. The all-county football linebacker has fanned 25, surrendering only 21 hits.

Close aboard are seniors Andrew Bowerman (3-1, 2.33 ERA, 29 strikeouts) and Keylon Holloway (3-1, 2.25, 14) and junior Dalton Curtis (3-1, 3.28, 26), with junior Evan Molter 1-0 in relief.

“Our pitching has been very good,” Gaylor said. “They don’t always shut everybody out, but they’re very competitive, and they keep us in the game.”

Along with the loss of Moore, Gaylor said the biggest need this season was replacing the run production of former Rebel slugger Landon Talley.

Jacob West is supplying a lot of the power numbers. The junior third baseman sets the tempo for the Rebels with team-leading six home runs on the season, adding a Maryville best 26 runs batted in. Senior Andrew Rouse is next best for the Rebels with three bombs. Bowerman is proving a dual threat with a team-leading .492 batting average.

“After a slow start, he’s really come on,” Gaylor said.

Whoever prevailed Wednesday, the race for the top seed in next month’s district tournament should be a close-run thing, Gaylor said. As of Tuesday, Bearden (5-3 4AAA), William Blount (3-2), Heritage (3-4) and Catholic (2-4) all remain in contention. The Governors and Rebels had a scheduled meeting rained out on Tuesday. The Mountaineers are at Alcoa on Thursday for an intra-county meeting at 6 p.m. The Governors are next at the Kessler tournament over the weekend in Knoxville, returning to district play against Farragut at home on Monday at 6 p.m.

“District wise it’s still too early to tell because we haven’t played everybody yet,” Gaylor said. “We just need to develop a little more consistency.”

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