Tigers narrowly defeat Rockets in opening day tilt

Friday, March 16, 2007

by Anthony S. Puca

Staff Writer


Spring is Here

The Bradford's are blooming, the bulbs are bursting, and baseball season has begun in Marshall County. The three-time Class AA champions Marshall County High School Tigers hosted last year's Class A runner-up Forrest Rockets Monday afternoon at Preston Hopkins Field on opening day of baseball in the county and the game went right to the wire as the Tigers scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh to win 3-2.

Tigers strike first

MCHS started junior Seth Lintz on the mound and he retired the Rockets in order in the first inning. Brad Barnes led off for the Tigers in the bottom of the frame and laced a long double over the left fielders head. Shortstop Justin McQueen followed with another double to right that scored Barnes and made it 1-0. McQueen was chased home on a sacrifice fly to right by Cody Primm and then Forrest starting pitcher, Jacob Davis got out of the inning with just the two runs.

Lintz had a great second inning as he struck out three, allowing only one hit to Forrest catcher Kristian Albarran, who was stranded on base. Kellen Gower reached on an error in the second, but was gunned down by Nick Schnaap at home on a Barnes single to right that kept the score 2-0.

Forrest finally got to Lintz in the third as he hit Davis with a pitch, who was run for by Wyatt Fuller. Fuller alertly moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored from second on an RBI single to right by Blake Arceneaux to make it 2-1. Lintz struck-out Andy Burkett on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

McQueen got his second hit of the day for the Tigers in the bottom of the third, but the Tigers left him on base because of some great defense by the Rocket infield.

Forrest could not touch Lintz in the fourth as he set the side down in order. Davis also pitched a 1-2-3 inning, helped by a leaping catch by FHS second baseman Seth Brothers.

Rockets come back to tie,

but Cross puts out a blazer

Forrest opened the fifth with a clean single to left by Burkett and Freshmen Coy Schultz came in as a courtesy runner at first. Shultz moved to second on a passed ball and stayed there as pinch-hitter Chase Beaulieu reached on an infield single. Shutltz alertly scored on another infield RBI single by Davis.

The score was 2-2 when Colin Henson got a bunt single, racing to an uncovered bag at first. With the bases loaded and no outs, MCHS manager Joe George summoned Zach Cross in from the bullpen. Cross got Arceneaux to bounce into a force at home for the first out, struck-out Brian Whitley on an eyeball high fastball, walked Brothers to reload the bases, and fanned Micah Phifer to end the inning and raise the Lewisburg crowd to their feet.

Davis was strong in the bottom half of the inning as he easily retired the side in order to preserve the 2-2 tie.

Cross was wheeling and dealing in the top half of the sixth, keeping the Rocket hitters off balance, allowing just a base on balls to do his job in keeping the tie intact. Davis was work-horsing it as he stayed in the game and retired the Tigers in order, helped by his defense, first with Arceneaux making a pretty sweeping tag on an errant throw to first, and then Henson went deep into the hole to gun down Jake Lintz to end the inning.

Forrest mounted a two out threat in the bottom of the seventh when Arceneaux walked, went to second on an infield hit by Whitley, and then Forrest went sacks full on an error by the second-baseman. Forrest looked ready to take the lead when Brothers hit a liner to right that was dropping fast, but senior Fred West made an incredible diving catch that saved the day for the Tigers.

Forrest manager Babe Hardison stuck with Davis for the long-haul, but the defense that was so good all night had a lapse as shortstop Colin Henson made two throwing errors in the bottom of the seventh that allowed the winning run to score on a single by McQueen.