Loretto junior Blade Tidwell tossed a no-hitter and hit a grand slam in an 11-0 victory over East Robertson in a TSSAA Class A baseball sectional Friday.
The Mustangs (31-5) advanced to their fourth straight state tournament. Loretto won the Class A state championship in 2017 with a 4-0 victory over Goodpasture but dropped last year’s title game to Columbia Academy 1-0.
Tidwell, a Tennessee commit, struck out 12 Indians in a six-inning shutout.
“He was running it up there [at] 94-95 mph,” East Robertson coach Derek Wix said. “When you don’t see that all year, it’s tough to get on time with.”
Tidwell’s grand slam in the sixth inning ended the game due to the 10-run mercy rule. He also singled, doubled and finished with five RBIs. Jacob James and Jason Sharpton had two hits apiece for Loretto.
East Robertson sophomore Van True started on the mound and gave up just two earned runs in 4.1 innings. The original plan was to start sophomore ace Peyton Smith, but he wasn’t ready after throwing 103 pitches in a 7-0 win over Richland four days earlier.
“We’re not in the business of trying to hurt or overpitch anybody,” Wix said. “It was more important for him to play a position instead of pitch.”
East Robertson (25-10) loses four seniors to graduation, including Joey Drury, Isaiah Hobdy, Bryce Smith and Tyler White.
“They were willing to do whatever was best for the team,” Wix said. “Their unselfishness is something that a coach dreams about. That unselfishness really drove our team.”
But the Indians return Peyton Smith and Lee commit Colton Harrison, along with a number of other underclassmen, next season.
“We have a lot of things to improve,” Wix said. “Hopefully we can put a better product on the field. That’s our goal year in and year out – to be better than we were the year before.”