David slayed Goliath Thursday night in Cornersville, as the CHS Bulldogs (3-2) defeated the Marshall County Tigers 8-7 behind some clutch hitting and a gritty performance by senior pitcher Chuck Bassham.
Marshall County held a 4-2 lead through the first four innings of play, but Cornersville exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fifth to seize an 8-4 advantage before fending off a late rally by the Tigers (2-3).
With Thursday's triumph, the Bulldogs recorded their first ever victory over MCHS in the 14-year series between the two programs.
Being a former Tiger player, Cornersville coach Brent Adcox was well aware of MCHS' proud baseball tradition and realized the significance of his team's accomplishment.
"It feels so good because I respect Marshall County's program so much. I'm just so proud of my kids. They fought really hard today to get this win. This game is really big for our program," said Adcox. "Everything I've learned came from their coaches, which makes it special because the pupil was finally able to beat his teacher."
Bassham, meanwhile, hoped the Bulldogs' win over the Tigers can help generate some momentum for the rest of the 2009 campaign.
"It feels great to beat a really good AA program like Marshall County. My defense really played well behind me and hopefully we can use this as a springboard for the rest of the season," said Bassham.
MCHS coach Joe George, conversely, was magnanimous in defeat, stating, "We just gotta keep working and try to get better. Give Cornersville credit, they fought back and just wanted it more than us. Brent does a great job down here."
Offensively, Cornersville pounded out 11 hits and drew three walks against four MCHS pitchers, while going 5-10 with runners in scoring position.
Shortstop Aaron Crowell swung the biggest bat for the Bulldogs, as he went 2-2 with a walk, a home run, 4 RBI, and a run scored. Mikey Adams and Stephen Dalton also had two hits apiece, while P.J. Allen had a single and 2 RBI. Chuck Bassham and Chase Bassham each added a single and a RBI as well and John Brewer and Mark Lane both had a hit and a run scored.
Despite suffering a severe knee injury in late October during football season, Chuck Bassham went the distance on the mound for CHS to pick up his first win of the year, allowing nine hits and seven walks over seven innings to go along with six strikeouts.
"Since it was his first outing of the season, his arm wasn't at full strength, but he's got guts. He wanted this game real bad," said Adcox.
Hunter Clark, Jack Whaley, and Morgan Reese each had a pair of hits to pace Marshall County at the plate with Clark and Whaley driving in three and one run respectively. Shawn Harwell also added a single and 2 RBI, while Andrew Thornhill notched a double and a RBI. Matthew Cashion singled for the Tigers as well.
MCHS reliever Ethan Chapman suffered the loss, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning.
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first inning when Koda Watkins scored on a two-out RBI single by Clark after being hit by a pitch and advancing to second on a walk by Thornhill.
Marshall County stretched their lead to 3-0 in the second thanks to a two-run single by Harwell, but Cornersville got their offense cranked up in the bottom half of the frame and pushed across two runs on three hits to slice the deficit to 3-2. Brewer belted a leadoff double prior to advancing to third on a Chase Bassham single. Allen then plated Brewer with a RBI groundout to make it 3-1 before Crowell lined a single into center field to drive in Bassham.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 4-2 in the fourth when Clark scored on a Whaley RBI single after drawing a one-out walk and advancing to second on a wild pitch, but the Bulldogs came storming back in the fifth and crossed home plate six times in the frame to seize an 8-4 advantage.
Lane drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on an Adams single prior to scoring on a RBI single by Chuck Bassham while Adams advanced to third on the play. After courtesy runner Flint Davis stole second, Adams raced home on a RBI groundout by Chase Bassham before Allen plated Davis with a two-out RBI single to give Cornersville a 5-4 lead. Following a walk by Lucas Laster, Crowell capped CHS' fifth inning onslaught by cranking a three-run homer over the right field fence.
In the sixth, Marshall County narrowed the gap to 8-7 on a RBI double by Thornhill and a Clark two-run single prior to loading the bases with two outs. Bassham though bore down and retired Chapman on a fly out to stop the bleeding in the sixth before setting down the Tigers in order in the seventh to secure Cornersville's historic victory.