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BASEBALL -- WC plays for region crown

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A.J. Franklin / Richie Bouton photo

Wildcats take on Hendersonville
CLARKSVILLE -- A combination of superb pitching and power hitting helped lift Wilson Central to a 5-2 victory over Rossview High Monday in the opening round of the Region 5-AAA baseball tournament.

With the win, the Wildcats climbed to 21-10-1 on the season and into tonight's regional championship game against Hendersonville. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Drakes Creek Park.

By reaching the region championship games, both Wilson Central and Hendersonville have earned spots in the Class AAA sectional -- the springboard to next week's TSSAA Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

Senior lefty A.J. Franklin turned in a stellar performance -- throwing a complete game six-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

"A.J. had his best outing of the season," WCHS head coach Anthony Ford said, "he really threw well. Earlier in the season, he'd had trouble spotting his fastball -- but he was on tonight. The two walks he had, he retired the next guys in the order."

Ben Spradley led off the game with a nine-pitch at bat that ended with a solo homer over the wall in centerfield.

"Spradley is our firecracker," Ford said. "That homer kind of got us going. The wind was swirling around, but he crushed it to dead center."

The Wildcats pushed across four runs in the top of the third as Drew Trice belted a solo homer to left, Kyle Schmitt bopped a two-run double and Dalton McCorkle plated a final run with a double of his own.

"We had put Drew in some tough spots this season as a pinch-hitter and he produced," Ford said. He just battled his way into the line-up. Drew has been an infielder his whole life, but we played him in right to get his bat in there."

Wilson Central, winners in four of their last five outings, ended Rossview's season at 30-9.

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