Tigers claw their way to regular season district title
by Anthony S. Puca
field advantage is the prize
There could not have been a better scenario for high drama Tuesday night at Marshall County High School as arch-rivals Lewisburg and Giles County met on senior night to decide the 2007 regular season District 10-AA championship.
Justin McQueen, one of the eight graduating seniors on the Tigers, said before the game, "This is great, there is no better feeling in the world, and I am ready!"
Longtime pride was not the only thing at stake in the contest, the winner would hold home field advantage throughout the district tournament and neither side wanted to give it up.
Leadoff hitter and fellow senior, Brad Barnes was also pumped up when he said, "I'm ready too, and we always play better in the jungle."
Pitching, defense shine early in contest
There is an old adage that says, pitching and defense wins championships and both teams lived up to the tale as the leather was out in full force and both starting pitchers came out of the box smoking hot.
In the first inning, Tiger third baseman Coda Watkins made two tough plays at third and in the bottom of the inning, Bobcat first-baseman, Sam Edgmon had an unbelievable sequence as he dug a low throw and then made a jumping jack stop of a high bouncer to end the inning.
Tiger starting pitcher, senior Judd Stoltz had five strikeouts in the first three innings and looked in complete control.
Tigers draw first blood
Giles County starter, Clay Sanderson, also a senior, breezed through the first two innings, but got in trouble in the bottom of the third when he walked catcher Jake Lintz. Brad Barnes followed the walk with a perfect sacrifice bunt, Lintz went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin McQueen to put the Tigers up, 1-0.
Stoltz shut the Bobcats down in the fourth and the Tigers scored again in the bottom of the frame as Cody Primm led off with a single, went to second on Watkins' sacrifice bunt, and scored on an RBI single down the left field line by Seth Nance to make it 2-0.
Giles County showed their own pride as they came back in the top of the fifth with a run. Edgmon led off with a bad hop single over Watkins' head, was sacrificed to second by Brent Hargrove, and scored on an RBI double down the right field line by Kelly Sutton.
Stoltz reared back and whiffed the next two batters to ignite the home town crowd and avoid the big inning.
Sanderson and the Bobcats turned back another Tiger threat in the bottom of the inning when second baseman Hargrove made a circus over the shoulder catch in shallow center to end the inning.
The Bobcats had a huge threat in the sixth, with runners on second and third and two outs, but Stoltz again came up big, striking out the tough Edgmon to end the frame.
The Tigers failed to score in the bottom of the sixth and the game went down to the final inning.
Hargrove led off the seventh with an infield single and Stoltz struck out the next hitter. Hargrove went to second on a 4-3 fielder's choice and then took third on a wild pitch.
The Bobcats pinch hit and drew a walk and then tried to trick the Tigers into throwing to second on a delayed steal, but they did not bite and almost caught Hargrove in a run-down at third to end the game.
Edgmon came to the plate, worked his way deep into the count and bounced a ball high over Stoltz's head, but the hurler nabbed the ball and turned and fired to first to end the game and give the Tigers the regular season district title.
Stoltz was jubilant after the game and said, "This feels great, it is a dream come true to pitch a complete game for the district championship."
Asked about that last play over his head, Stoltz stated, "I knew I would get to the ball, but it seemed like it was up in the air forever."
Tigers want more
Nance wants more as he stated, "I want to go all the way to MTSU and get the ring."
Hall of Fame coach Joe George, a 35 year veteran at MCHS said, "The state championship is always our goal, we set them pretty high, why not." George added, "If you set low goals, you have not done anything."