Everything was on the line, win or go home and the Lewisburg Tigers showed exactly what they are made of as they executed a comeback for the ages in defeating Marion County 14-11 in a loser's bracket game Wednesday morning at Smyrna High School in the TSSAA State Tournament.
Judd Stoltz, the starting pitcher for the Tigers thought he had let his team down in giving up an early 8-1 lead to the Warriors, but redemption was sweet for the senior when he blasted the game winning homerun, deep over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"It felt great to hit that homerun, Stoltz said, it put us ahead and I knew Cody Searls would win the game for us after that."
Tigers jump out to an early 8-1 lead
Early on, it looked like it would be an easy victory for the Tigers as they scored an unearned run in the first inning, then added six more in the second for a 7-1 lead.
The big RBI hitters for the Tigers in the second inning of the game were Seth Nance, Zach Cross, and Justin McQueen, who had a double that scored two.
Cory Searls got the first of his three hits in the contest with an RBI double in the third inning.
Warriors come back to take lead
The Tiger pitching staff came into the game thin and Stoltz was looking very good until he began to tire in the fourth inning. Stoltz gave up a one out walk, then a single, then got another out on a failed bunt attempt.
The inning then changed faces as Stoltz was called for a phantom balk that put runners on second and third. The floodgates opened and Marion pushed six runs across to cut the lead to one at, 8-7.
After Marion tied the game in the fifth, MCHS head coach Joe George went to Cory Searls out of the pen. The Tigers did not get out of the frame until Marion pushed three more runs across for an 11-7 lead.
Searls' long homer inches Tigers closer in bottom of inning
The Tiger coaching staff never let the team get down on itself and stayed positive the entire game and it paid off when they came back again in the bottom of the fifth. Seth Lintz drew a lead-off walk and then Cory Searls drew the Tigers to within one run at 11-10 when he nailed a homerun to left field.
Searls also settled into a groove on the mound in the top of the sixth, retiring the Warriors with no trouble.
Marshall County had turned the tide of momentum and they started the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off walk to Justin McQueen. Stoltz got his sweet redemption by nailing a 1-1 pitch deep over the left field fence. The team went ballistic in the dug-out, the crowd went crazy in the stands, and the air went out of the Warriors for good. The Tigers added to more runs on a Searls double down the left field line and the amazing comeback was complete.
Zach Cross came up huge in the top of the seventh when he made a diving catch on the lead-off hitter and Searls sealed the victory to give the Tigers one more chance at keeping their hopes alive in the Spring Fling.