Blaze burns Tigers in season opener
Former Marshall County High School graduate and current Blackman baseball coach Chris Parker ran his record to 3-0 against his alma mater on Monday afternoon, as his Blaze squad defeated the MCHS Tigers 6-1 at Joe George Field in the season opener for both teams.
"You can go around here and look at all the state championship signs so winning here always means something," said Parker. "I grew up around a lot of great players here. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those players, but my coaches here taught me a lot."
Blackman starting pitcher Hunter Martin appeared to be in midseason form, as the junior right hander went the distance on the mound to pick up the victory while limiting the Tigers to just one hit and two walks in seven innings of work to go along with two strikeouts.
Catcher Brandon Bush doubled and drove in a run in the fourth inning to account for Marshall County's lone hit of the contest.
The Blaze, meanwhile, banged out 10 hits and drew two walks against three MCHS pitchers. First baseman Austin Reynolds did the most damage at the plate for Blackman and went 2-for-4 with a homerun and 5 RBI. Heath Hamby also tallied a pair of singles for the Blaze and Alex Brown added a solo homerun.
Tiger starting hurler Cody Vernon suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in four innings of work while notching five strikeouts.
"Blackman made the Triple-A State Tournament a few years ago and I chose to play them because it's good competition," said Marshall County coach Steve Reese. "I thought we played fairly well overall, but we've got to hit more line drives. Fly balls aren't going to carry like they have in the past because of the new bats. We put the ball in play, but they made all of the plays defensively."
The Blaze wasted little time getting on the board and crossed home plate twice in the top of the first inning with the help of a leadoff walk by Will Snider, a hit batsman, and a Reynolds two-run single to grab a 2-0 lead.
Vernon held Blackman scoreless over the next two innings, but the Blaze opened up a 3-0 advantage in the fourth when Brown cranked a solo shot over the left field fence.
The Tigers trimmed the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-out walk by Morgan Reese and a RBI double by Bush, but Reynolds pushed the Blaze's lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth by blasting a three-run homer to left field after Snider and Clay Skipworth both singled.
Martin then retired Marshall County in order in the bottom of the seventh to wrap up the Blackman victory.