A chilly night for The Mavericks

ACHS can’t get bats heated up in 5-1 opening loss

  • Anderson County High School’s Morgan Clark waits for the pickoff attempt as Oak Ridge’s Alex Franklin dives back to safety Monday night at Oak Ridge. - Ken Leinart

  • Anderson County’s Alex Bond - Ken Leinart

  • Oak Ridge’s Tyler Pickens - Ken Leinart

It was unseasonably cold late Monday afternoon when Oak Ridge High School opened the 2023 baseball season.

So, Wildcats Head Coach Travis Free knew he’d have a stellar performance from his pitching staff, and the hurlers delivered.

Starter Tyler Pickens teamed with reliever Alex Franklin to toss a combined no hitter as Oak Ridge toppled Anderson County 5-1 in Oak Ridge.

“Our pitching depth is going to be a strong point for us while our offense works to get going,” Free said.

“It helped us get off to a great start.

“I knew we were going to have to have a solid pitching performance on a day like this because it was cold and the ball wasn’t going anywhere.”

The pitching certainly came through against the Mavericks (0-1) as Pickens threw five innings.

Pickens also collected the first hit of the new season for Oak Ridge.

He gave up just two walks while recording eight strikeouts.

He gave way to Franklin, who went two innings, striking out three.

He allowed one run and a walk. He also hit a batter.

Pickens, a senior and transfer from Hardin Valley Academy, also helped the Wildcats (1-0) with his bat as he came up with a two-run single.

Richie Ferriera also had a two-run single with the bases loaded to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.

“Richie came up with a big hit for us with the bases loaded,” Free said. “It was 2-0 and he came up with a big hit.

“Their pitcher, his name was Alex Bond, and he was doing a good job. He stymied us early.”

But the two two-run singles and an RBI single by 2022 all-state performer Caden Black was enough to get the Wildcats into the win column against Anderson County, which scored its lone run of the contest with the aid of a walk and an error late in the game.