Lintz leads Tigers to state tournament
The old baseball axiom that good pitching beats good hitting was never more true than Friday night at Joe George Stadium in Lewisburg where a standing room only crowd witnessed a pitching duel between home town ace Seth Lintz and Bolivar Central's Will Irvin that will be talked about for years to come.
Bolivar Central (26-15) was fresh off a victory over Creekwood on Monday to earn the trip to face off with the number one seed Tigers and they were as good as advertised.
The two pitchers combined for 21 strikeouts in nine innings of work and allowed only eight hits in the game, but it was Lintz that would win the duel with his arm and bat to lead his team to the state play-offs in Murfreesboro next week.
Neither team could muster any kind of a rally until the seventh when Bolivar centerfielder Dylan Armstrong started it off with a two out base hit off a Lintz fastball.
Jason Overton laced a 1-2 pitch into right field and Armstrong was waved on by third base coach Mark Fulghum. Tiger outfielder Judd Stoltz picked the ball up cleanly, crow hopped, and threw a laser to third baseman Koda Watkins who applied the tag to end the inning and the hopes of the Hardeman County kids.
"That was a clutch throw by Stoltz to end the inning," Tiger coach Joe George said. "It was the first time in the game that either team could string a couple of hits together and things were starting to look bad for us momentum wise.
"That out, changed the mindset of our kids and the momentum of the game."
Lintz and Irvin set the side down in order in the eighth inning before the Tigers would finally break through in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out line drive to right centerfield to score Zach Cross with the winning run.
"I just want to give all the praise to God for his goodness," Lintz said. "I was totally gassed in the last couple of innings but somehow he just kept giving me the strength to compete.
"I was just choked up and trying to put the ball in play in that last at-bat and I was fortunate to get the job done. It feels great to be able to contribute. I am happy for my teammates and for my school.
"State tournament here we come!"
"I don't know if this is what you would call a magical moment or not," George said. "But it has got to be the closest thing to it if it's not. These kids just keep battling no matter what the circumstances are.
"This is one of those games that you really hate for either team to lose. Their kid pitched his heart out and his effort would have been good enough to win on most nights. Our hats are off to him.
"Our guy showed why he is one of the best around and I can't say enough about that at-bat in the ninth. He showed what he is made of with two strikes on him."
Marshall County, ranked sixth in the latest Tennessean baseball poll, advances to the state tournament on Tuesday at Smyrna in a four o'clock match-up against the University School of Jackson (37-5).
The Tigers (28-12) will be vying for their fourth state tournament championship, the last coming in 1994 when they won back to back titles.