Montgomery Central trips up Tigers
The Marshall County Tigers' playoff run came to an end on Monday night when they lost 8-6 to the Montgomery Central Indians at home in the first round of the Region 6-AA tournament.
Having won 14 of their last 15 games, the Tigers (26-10) appeared to be in control of Monday's contest and held a 5-2 lead through the first five innings of play. Things went awry for Marshall County after that point, as the Indians crossed home plate six times over the next two innings to seize an 8-5 advantage before staving off a last ditch rally attempt by the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh.
Although Marshall County finished with 11 hits and seven walks against two Montgomery Central pitchers, the Tigers missed several opportunities to break the game open and left 17 men on base overall while going 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
"We left 17 runners on base that tells the story right there. It just wasn't our night," said Marshall County coach Steve Reese. "Montgomery Central played their outfield real deep and we didn't hit enough line drives in front of them. Give them credit because they made the plays they needed to make."
Senior centerfielder J.B. Reese (1 RBI), Dylan McKnight, and Aaron Medley (1 RBI) each tallied two hits to lead the Tigers at the plate, while starting pitcher Matt Sharp, Brandon Bush (1RBI), Aaron Thomason, Cody Vernon (1 RBI), and Aaron Hobbs notched one hit apiece.
"All five seniors came through in a big way this year and helped us win 26 games this season. They put in a lot of hard work and got better every year so next year's senior class has some big shoes to fill," said Steve Reese.
Aided by six infield singles, the Indians finished with 10 hits and two walks in the contest while the Tigers committed four costly errors, which contributed to six of Montgomery Central's eight runs.
Sharp had to settle for a no decision after allowing five runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks in five and one-third innings of work. McKnight came on in relief of Sharp in the top of the sixth and suffered the loss on the mound, yielding three unearned runs on four hits over one and two-third innings.
Chris Patterson paced Montgomery Central's offense with three hits and 2 RBI, while Jesse Beck added two hits and 1 RBI.
Indian relief pitcher Ben Drudy earned the victory and gave up four runs, only one earned, on six hits and five walks over the final four innings.
Marshall County wasted no time getting on the board and tallied a run in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 1-0 lead. After Sharp doubled to lead off the inning, courtesy runner Jesse Kilpatrick advanced to third on a single by Bush before coming home on a Morgan Reese sacrifice fly.
Montgomery Central tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second when Beck scored on a sacrifice bunt by Jarren Collins after singling, advancing to second on an errant pickoff throw, and stealing third.
The Indians took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on a RBI groundout by Beck, before the Tigers plated a run in the bottom half of the frame thanks to a Medley RBI fielder's choice to knot the game at 2-2.
Marshall County left the bases loaded in the fourth inning, but pushed across three runs in the fifth with the help of a single by Hobbs, three Montgomery Central errors, a McKnight walk, a RBI fielder's choice by Bush, and a J.B. Reese RBI single to seize a 5-2 advantage.
The Tigers' lead quickly evaporated, as the Indians crossed home plate five times in the top of the sixth on the strength of two RBI singles from Collins and Austin Downey, two Marshall County errors, and a Patterson two-run single to pull ahead 7-5.
Montgomery Central then tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh thanks to a infield single by Beck, a sacrifice bunt, and a Tiger error to stretch their lead to 8-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, Marshall County loaded the bases with two outs after McKnight and Thomason sandwiched a couple of singles around a J.B. Reese walk. Cody Vernon then ripped a RBI single down the left field line to trim the deficit to 8-6, but Drudy struck out the next Tiger batter to secure the Indians' victory.