Tigers take down Raiders

Friday, April 20, 2012
Marshall County starting pitcher Dylan McKnight notched eight strikeouts and allowed just one run in seven innings of work to help lead the Tigers to an 8-1 win over Spring Hill on Wednesday night. Photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

After defeating Spring Hill 5-1 two days earlier, the Marshall County Tigers completed the season sweep of their District 12-AA rival on Wednesday night when they whipped the Raiders 8-1 on the road to extend their current winning streak to four games.

Thanks to Wednesday's triumph, the Tigers joined Spring Hill atop the conference standings and own the tiebreaker for the number one seed in the upcoming District tournament.

The Raiders (18-5, 10-2 District) came into the series with MCHS averaging nearly seven runs per game, but saw their offense shutdown for the second straight game by Marshall County's pitching staff. Tiger starting hurler Dylan McKnight went the distance on the mound and limited Spring Hill to only one run on six hits and three walks while notching eight strikeouts en route to earning his fifth victory of the season.

Marshall County shortstop Morgan Reese attempts to throw out Spring Hill's Luke Bigler at first base after fielding a groundball in the bottom of the first inning.

"I think we played well in back to back games against a pretty good ballclub. We're where we want to be now we just have to stay there," said MCHS coach Steve Reese. "McKnight pitched really well. His kept them off balance with his off speed pitches and his curveball was off the charts."

Marshall County (16-8, 10-2 District), meanwhile, pounded out 12 hits and drew four walks against two Raider pitchers. McKnight helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI, while shortstop Morgan Reese delivered the biggest blow of the game when he belted a grand slam homerun in the third inning. Brandon Bush (1 RBI), Aaron Thomason, and Aaron Hobbs tallied two hits apiece for the Tigers as well, and Cody Vernon and right fielder Aaron Medley (1 RBI) each had one hit.

Spring Hill starting pitcher Cole Barksdale lasted just one and two-third innings and suffered the loss after yielding two runs on four hits and three walks.

Taylor Ellis registered two hits to pace the Raiders at the plate, while Luke Bigler, Barksdale, Cody Kennedy, and J.T. Farmer all had one hit.

Marshall County left the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, but broke though for two runs in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Vernon laced a double down the left field line to lead off the frame before coming home on a RBI double by Medley to put the Tigers up 1-0. After Hobbs and Morgan Reese both drew walks to load the bases with two outs, Bush drove in Medley with a RBI single.

Despite having a runner thrown out at home plate by Medley in the bottom second, Spring Hill plated a run in the inning on a RBI groundout by Darian Prewett to trim the deficit to 2-1.

The floodgates, however, opened up in the top of the third, as the Tigers crossed home plate five times in the frame to forge a 7-1 advantage. Following singles by Thomason and Hobbs, Raider relief pitcher Jake Usher issued a walk to Matt Sharp to load the bases with two outs. Thomason then scored on a RBI infield single by McKnight to make it 3-1, before Morgan Reese cleared the bases by blasting a homer over the left field fence.

Marshall County tacked on another run in the fifth to push their lead to 8-1 when Hobbs scored on a McKnight RBI double after reaching first base on an error.

McKnight then took care of the rest and yielded just a single and two walks over the final three innings to wrap up the Tigers 16th victory of the season.