It was tougher than the final score indicated, but the Marshall County Tigers advanced to the championship game of the District 10-AA tournament Monday, defeating the Lewis County Panthers, 9-3, at home.
Although MCHS had outscored Lewis County 24-2 in their three previous meetings this season, they found themselves locked in a 3-3 tie with the Panthers through the first four and a half innings of play. The Tigers spoiled Lewis County's upset bid in the bottom of the fifth by tallying six runs with two outs en route to their fourth victory of the year over the Panthers.
With Monday's win also clinching a spot in the Region 5-AA tournament for MCHS, head coach Joe George seemed relieved that his youthful team is guaranteed at least two more games in the playoffs. "It feels great. I was worried about this game tonight, but the kids did a great job coming back," said George. "With young players you don't know what to expect, but they've done well this season."
The Tigers finished with a modest seven hits, but drew six walks and went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position. DH Shaun Harwell went 2-for-3 with two runs scored to lead Marshall County at the plate. Third baseman Andrew Thornhill had a double and three RBIs. Starting pitcher Koda Watkins and first baseman Colton Primm each added a single, two RBIs and a run scored for MCHS, while Zach Cross and Jack Whaley notched one hit apiece.
Despite a rough stretch in the top of the fifth, Watkins turned in one of his best pitching performances of the season and earned the victory on the mound for the Tigers. Watkins registered six strikeouts over five innings, while allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.
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