Dusters trample Grassland
The Marshall County Dusters (12-2-1) advanced to the championship round of the Senior Babe Ruth State tournament on Friday night by crushing the Grassland Venom 14-0 in five innings at Joe George Field in the second round of the tourney.
Duster starting pitcher Cody Vernon mowed down Grassland's lineup with relative ease, as he tossed a one-hit shutout while racking up eight strikeouts in the contest en route to earning the victory.
"Every time Cody gets to pitch, he looks stronger because he's still coming back from that elbow injury," said Marshall County coach Mike Reese. "He threw a lot of strikes and had good command of his pitches tonight."
The Dusters finished with seven hits against three Venom hurlers, but also drew 10 walks to go along with a hit batsman and four Grassland errors.
Matt Sharp and Brandon Bush both doubled and drove in three and two runs respectively to lead Marshall County's offensive attack, while J.B. Reese (2 RBI), Dylan McKnight, Grayson Wiles, Cody Vernon (1 RBI), Aaron Hobbs, and Ryan Richardson (1 RBI) all singled.
McCord Cotton singled in the bottom of the fourth inning to account for the Venom's lone hit of the game. Grassland starting pitcher Ryne Key lasted just two-thirds of an inning and suffered the loss on the mound, allowing six runs on two hits and four walks.
The Venom had defeated Hillsboro 8-1 earlier in the evening, but saw the wheels come off early against the Dusters, as Marshall County crossed home plate 10 times in the top of the first inning on the strength of seven walks, a hit batsman, a two-run single by J.B. Reese, a McKnight bloop single, a two-run double by Bush, and a Grassland error to forge a 10-0 lead.
"I was happy we started off strong and think that was one of the main keys to the game," said Mike Reese. "Grassland had to use a couple of pitchers in their first game and their starting pitcher issued some walks against us. We were able to get a few big hits and broke the game open."
The Dusters stretched their lead to 12-0 in the second by pushing across two runs on two hits and a walk. After drawing a leadoff walk, Vernon advanced to second on a wild pitch before moving to third on an infield single by Hobbs. Sharp then plated both runners by belting a two-run double to right field.
In the top of the third, Marshall County cashed in on some Venom miscues and tallied a run with the help of a dropped fly ball and two Grassland throwing errors to stretch their lead to 13-0.
The Dusters then tacked on another run in the fifth inning to cap their 14-0 mercy rule shortened victory when Wiles scored on a RBI single by Richardson after reaching base on an infield single and advancing to third on a Vernon single and a fly out by Hobbs.