8U All-Stars defend home turf for state title

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Eli Woodard was named the game MVP on two occasions during the tournament with a solid effort at the plate and in the field at second base. Tribune Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Marshall County 8U boys all-stars defended their home turf at the Richard Cashion Youth Complex in splendid fashion over the weekend, sweeping away the competition to capture the Cal Ripken East Tennessee state title.

Marshall County manager James Holder said after the game, "The boys played really good. They did an outstanding job this weekend and I am really proud of them."

Marshall County went undefeated at 4-0 in the tournament, securing the state crown with a 9-4 Independence Day win over the Warren County Stars.

"I think our defense was the key this weekend," said Holder. "They will run the bases on you if you don't have good defense and we did an outstanding job in the field this weekend."

Warren County lost 11-5 to Marshall County in a Saturday winner's bracket game, but advanced to the finals by beating the Columbia Nationals 16-5 in the loser's bracket final prior to the championship game on Sunday.

Marshall's road to the finals started with an opening round 13-2 rout over the Warren County Storm, followed by another 15-2 thrashing over Piney Bluff.

After the 11-5 win over the Warren County Stars on Saturday, Marshall County sat in the catbird's seat, waiting for the loser's bracket to sort itself out.

Just as they had done all weekend, Marshall County jumped out in front in the title game, scoring five runs in the first inning on five hits by Cameron Whitaker, Tilden Jackson, Cade Hopkins, Preston Shelton, and Eli Woodard.

Warren County answered back with two runs in the top of the second, cutting Marshall's lead to 5-2 and then scored twice more in the top of the third to make it a one-run ballgame.

MC's Zak Holder reached on a two-out error in the bottom of the inning and came home on an RBI knock by Woodward, making the score 6-4.

Warren County managed just four batters in the top of the fourth inning thanks to some great defense by Marshall County.

Spence Oliver gets a base hit in the two-run fourth inning versus the Warren County Stars in the championship tilt.

Sam Williams, Spence Oliver, and Ryan Provence knocked consecutive hits to load the bases in the home half of the frame.

Blake Aldridge came in to run for Williams and scored on a Jackson grounder.

Provence came home with run number eight on an RBI hit Hopkins.

Another inning of solid defense up the middle in the infield by Woodard at second base and Whitaker at shortstop shut down Warren County in the fifth inning.

Marshall County manager James Holder tells the boys they are just three outs away from the state title before the top of the sixth inning began Sunday afternoon.

Preston Shelton, who was later named the championship game MVP, singled with one down in the bottom of the inning and crossed home plate on another RBI blast by Woodward.

A ground ball to Woodard at second accounted for out number one in the sixth and after a strikeout for the second out, the game ended on a grounder back to Jackson on the mound.

Jackson flipped the ball to Holder at first for the title clinching out, sending Marshall County to the Southeast Region Tournament in Winterville, N.C., beginning July 15.

The 8U Marshall County All-Stars pose with their championship hardware after defeating the Warren County Stars 9-4 in the title game on Independence Day.

Holder said about the trip to Winterville, "We are going to hit the practice field again starting tomorrow and we will have to do some fund-raising to try to get a little money together to help these boys get to North Carolina."