By Kim West
Athens Bible senior sinkballer Hayden Phillips tossed a nearly flawless no-hitter during his first start of the season as the visiting Trojans blanked Tanner 12-0 on Monday afternoon in five innings.
The 5-foot-11-inch righthander struck out nine and issued one walk in five innings. After the first Tanner batter reached on an error, the only contact Phillips allowed were three ground ball outs and a sharp liner snared on the run by centerfielder Carter Corneil.
Phillips, who threw 74 pitches and averaged just below five pitches per hitter, retired the last 10 Rattlers, including the final five on strikeouts.
Class 1A Athens Bible (5-0), which lost to three-time defending state champion Shoals Christian in the second round of the 2012 playoffs, combined for 10 hits against a 2A Tanner team that made the playoffs last spring but only has 15 players listed on this season’s roster.
Athens Bible coach Bill Murrell said Phillips is the first Trojans pitcher to throw a no-hitter against a playoff-caliber team in at least four seasons.
“It’s early in the season, and I let him pitch more pitches than normal. I just couldn’t pull him when he had a no-hitter going,” said Murrell, who enters his 40th season as head coach with a 706-52 record and 29 playoff appearances.
Douglas Fields had three hits and drove in four runs, while Cole Graviett had a double, single and three RBI. Blake Cundiff drove in two runs and pounded out a triple and a double, and Corneil added a run-scoring single.
Drew Ogles and Sam Bobo and Corneil also singled for the Trojans.
Athens Bible is scheduled to play at Elkmont on Tuesday but rainy weather could force a postponement.
The Trojans will travel to Brewer this Friday for junior and varsity games beginning at 4 p.m. The Trojans will play at 4:30 p.m. at Waterloo on Monday, and host the Cougars at 1 p.m. in a varsity doubleheader.