Tigers slay Spartans
The Marshall County Tigers reduced their magic number for clinching the top seed in the upcoming District 12-AA tournament to one on Tuesday when they defeated the Summit Spartans 9-3 at home on Senior Night to record their eighth straight win.
MCHS can clinch the number one seed with a win over Summit on Thursday or with a Spring Hill loss to Fairview.
Having averaged 8.5 runs per game in their previous eight contests, the Tigers (19-8, 13-2 District) continued their recent hot streak at the plate and pounded out 13 hits against Spartan starting pitcher Zack Mather to go along with two walks and two Summit errors.
Shortstop Morgan Reese spearheaded Marshall County's offensive attack by going 4-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Brandon Bush also went 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, and 2 RBI, while starting pitcher Matt Sharp and Cody Vernon each had two hits and 1 RBI. J.B. Reese (2 RBI) and Aaron Thomason (1 RBI) both had one hit for the Tigers as well.
"We've got to win one more on Thursday to win the title outright so we still have work to do," said Marshall County coach Steve Reese. "We came out swinging the bats and I was tickled to death with how we played defensively because we didn't commit any errors.
Coached by former MCHS baseball standout Chad Kirby, who was a member of the Tigers' 1993 and 1994 State championship teams, the Spartans finished with 11 hits and a walk against two Marshall County hurlers, but stranded six runners in scoring position and left eight men on base overall.
Sharp picked up the victory on the mound for Marshall County allowing three runs on 10 hits and a walk over five and two-third innings while notching eight strikeouts. Morgan Reese then came on in relief of Sharp and yielded one hit in one and one-third scoreless innings of work.
Dale Burdick and Jordan Kelly (3 RBI) each had three hits to pace Summit offensively with Burdick scoring three runs. Cody Campbell also had two hits for the Spartans (10-13, 8-7 District).
"It was fun to come back home. The score didn't end up how I wanted, but it was good to face my nephew (Zack Kirby)," said Chad Kirby. "Those two guys in the other dugout and coach (Joe) George are the ones that got me interested in coaching. We do a lot things here that we used to do when I played at Marshall County. It was good to come back and compete against them."
Summit jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to a leadoff single by Burdick and a Kelly RBI double, but the Tigers tallied two runs in the bottom half of the frame with the help of single by Morgan Reese, a Bush ground rule double, a passed ball, and a RBI infield single by Thomason to pull ahead 2-1.
The Tigers then opened up a 4-1 advantage by pushing across two more runs in the second inning on the strength of a Medley leadoff walk, a RBI double by Sharp, an infield single by Reese, and a Spartan throwing error.
After trimming the deficit to 4-2 in the third inning on a RBI single by Kelly, Summit stranded two runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth before MCHS crossed home plate four times in the bottom half of the frame behind a Bush two-run double and RBI singles by J.B. Reese and Vernon to stretch their lead to 8-2.
The Spartans narrowed the gap to 8-3 in the fifth thanks to a RBI double by Kelly, but Marshall County tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth with the aid of a Morgan Reese triple and a sacrifice fly by J.B. Reese to cap their 9-3 triumph.