Generals counter offensive spoils 12U comeback

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Marshall County's Jay Howard (4) and the Franklin fans in the background look up as Howard's leadoff homerun soars over the Liberty Park fence Sunday afternoon, but it was not enough as the Generals prevailed late 8-7 in the Cal Ripken 12U State Tournament. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Manager Mike Bailey and his District 8 12U champions' gallant comeback was spoiled by the host Franklin Generals in an 8-7 defeat in the semifinals of the Cal Ripken State Tournament Sunday at Liberty Park, ending the Marshall County all-stars' summer campaign.

"We didn't give up, that's the main thing," said Marshall County head coach Mike Bailey. "We played hard all the way through and I thought we had a good chance. We had them right where we wanted them and just could not get it done."

In an exciting and well-played ballgame, Marshall County standout Jay Howard led off the contest with a deep homerun over the center field fence, sending a message to the host Generals that they would be in for a tussle.

Marshall County could have done more damage in the inning, but squandered a second and third, no-out situation when Franklin starting pitcher Peyton Wigginton retired three in a row to end the threat.

In the bottom of the first, Jordan Neeley led off with a triple to center and scored when Wigginton drilled a double to right.

After a groundout, Franklin's Ian Spallinger nailed the first of his two homeruns in the game, giving the Generals a 3-1 lead.

Wigginton and Marshall County starting hurler Will Johnson did not allow a run in the second.

Marshall County catcher Thomas Hawkins (7) had a huge tournament, going 7-12 (.583 batting average) with seven runs scored and four RBIs.

In the top of the third, Thomas Hawkins lined a one-out single to right field before a Wigginton pitch hit Ben Taylor.

Hawkins scampered home on a Franklin infield error and Jonathan Lykins tied the game when he drilled an RBI single to left that scored Taylor.

With one down in the home half of the inning, Spallinger's second dinger made it 4-3.

Howard began the Marshall County fourth inning comeback with a leadoff double down the left field chalk and one-out later; Johnson drove Howard home with a base hit to left to re-knot the contest.

Hawkins followed with a base on balls and Taylor singled to left field to load the sacks full of Marshall Countians.

Caelan Carver-Pack came to the mound for Franklin and was rudely greeted by Logan Bailey, who drilled a base hit to center that scored Johnson, but Hawkins was nailed at third for the second out.

Lykins came up and hit a deep ball to center that was dropped by Franklin, allowing Taylor and Bailey to score on the miscue, making it 7-4.

Will Johnson (24) picked up one win on the mound for Marshall County and he also went 7-12 with seven runs scored and drove home five in the Cal Ripken State Tournament in Franklin.

Howard came to the hill in the home half of the inning, but walked the first two Franklin batters and MC skipper Bailey went back to Johnson.

Back-to-back doubles by Wigginton and Carver-Pack made it 7-6 before Johnson whiffed the next batter for the first out.

Stephen Bledsoe came up next for the Generals and tied the ballgame at seven with an RBI infield hit.

Bryce Akridge came in to run for Bledsoe and stole second before coming home with the go-ahead run on another infield hit by Wilson Clark.

Both teams went down 1-2-3 in their respective halves of the fifth inning.

In the top of the seventh, Johnson beat out an infield hit to leadoff the frame and Hawkins followed with a base hit to center to give Bailey's crew some real hope.

Those hopes faded quickly when Spallinger made a great dig of a Taylor grounder to third and tagged the passing runner before firing to first for the double play.

The game ended on a strikeout, sending MC home and Franklin to the finals where they lost to Donelson 9-8 Sunday afternoon.

"I give all the credit to them, they have a well oiled machine over there," said Bailey. "This team represented Marshall County well. We had a chance until the very last pitch. We were pumped and ready and we knew it was going to be tough, but like I said, we were in it until the very end."

Marshall County advanced to the semifinals by posting a 2-1 Pool Play record, beginning with a pair of lopsided wins over Warren County (11-2) on Friday and Smoky Mountain (14-2) Saturday morning before suffering their first tournament defeat at the hands of Donelson (8-3) on Saturday afternoon.

Johnson picked up the win on the mound versus Warren County, tossing four innings of one-hit, shutout ball, while striking out six and walking two.

Johnson also banged three hits in three at bats, walked once, and scored four runs.

Hawkins had a big day at the plate versus Warren County, going 3-3 with a base on balls, drove home four runs, scored three, and stole two bases.

Howard scored twice on a base hit and a walk and stole two bases and Lykins and Bailey each had one RBI.

Howard got the win on the hill in the big 14-2 win over the Smoky Mountain crew, tossing a no-hitter on his time on the mound and Kolbe McMahon finished up the no-no.

The East Tennessee team committed several errors in the contest, helping Marshall County's cause.

Saturday afternoon's contest pitted the only remaining undefeated teams in Pool 'A' and Donelson scored twice in the top of the first inning versus Lykins on the hill for MC.

Only one run was earned as Marshall County committed three errors in the frame.

Marshall County came back with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning when Johnson drove in Howard, who had reached on a Donelson miscue.

Donelson put together a two-run fourth to make it 4-1 before a Jaquantice Haislip RBI base knock in the bottom of the inning cut the deficit in half at 4-2.

A couple of more miscues in the field by Marshall County stretched Donelson's lead to 6-2 in the fifth inning before Bailey made it 6-3 with an RBI hit in the bottom of the inning.

Donelson scored two more runs in the sixth and the game ended on a double play in the bottom of the last inning, securing the number one seed for Donelson and setting up the Sunday showdown between Marshall County and host Franklin on Sunday.