Dusters tame Lions
Having posted a 1-2 record in pool play, the Marshall County Dusters (15-4-1) advanced to the finals of their bracket in the single elimination portion of the Columbia/Forrest Classic by defeating the Cannon County Lions 7-5 on Saturday morning in Chapel Hill.
Cannon County held a 5-2 lead through the first three innings of play, but Marshall County eventually righted the ship and outscored the Lions 5-0 over the next four frames to escape with the two-run victory.
Matt Sharp went 2-for-4 with 1 RBI to lead a 10-hit attack by the Dusters, while catcher Brandon Bush added a solo homerun. Jesse Kilpatrick (1 RBI), Aaron Thomason, Bubba Houghton (1 RBI), relief pitcher Cody Vernon, Ryan McDaniel (1 RBI), Aaron Hobbs, and Dylan McKnight each had one hit for Marshall County as well.
Although Cannon County drew six walks against three Duster hurlers, the Lions finished with a modest seven hits overall.
Vernon picked up the victory on the mound for Marshall County and allowed just one hit and two walks in two and two-third scoreless innings of work to go along with three strikeouts. Duster starting pitcher J.B. Reese yielded three runs in an inning and a third on a hit and four walks, before Kilpatrick came on in relief and gave up two runs over three innings on five hits.
Trent Bragg (2 RBI) and Dalton Bell (1 RBI) both tallied two hits to pace Cannon County at the plate, while Chase Gunter, starting hurler Brent Duggin (1 RBI), and Dathan McGuire notched one hit apiece. Lion relief pitcher Brock Francis suffered the loss on the mound after yielding two runs on four hits over an inning and two-thirds.
Cannon County grabbed an early 1-0 lead by tallying a run in the top of the first inning with the help of a Marshall County error and three walks.
The Dusters pushed across two runs in the top of the second thanks to a leadoff walk by Reese, a Lion error, and a Houghton RBI single to pull ahead 2-1, but Cannon County crossed home plate four times in the bottom half of the frame on the strength of a RBI single by Duggin, a Bragg two-run double, and a wild pitch to take a 5-2 lead.
Marshall County left the bases loaded in the top of the third before trimming the deficit to 5-3 in the fourth inning when Hobbs raced home on a RBI single by McDaniel after singling and advancing to second on a Houghton groundout.
The Dusters missed a chance to pull closer in the top of the fifth and stranded runners on the corners, before the Lions left the bases loaded in the bottom half of the frame.
In the top of the sixth, the momentum swung to Marshall County's dugout, as the Dusters plated three runs in the frame on a bases loaded walk by Richardson, a Sharp RBI fielder's choice, and a RBI single by Kilpatrick to seize a 6-5 advantage.
Bush belted a solo homer over the left field fence in the top of the seventh to give the Dusters a 7-5 lead before Vernon worked around a walk and a Bragg single in the bottom half of the frame to preserve Marshall County's victory.