McDaniel no hits Rockets
The Marshall County Dusters (16-4-1) won their bracket in the single elimination portion of the Columbia/Forrest Classic by defeating the Forrest Rockets 7-0 in five innings on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill behind a no-hitter from starting pitcher Ryan McDaniel.
Although he faced the minimum number of Forrest batters and did not issue a walk, McDaniel was not credited with a perfect game due to a Duster error in the bottom of the third inning while notching three strikeouts in the contest.
"Ryan came in and threw strikes, which was the key because he pitched two innings yesterday. Our catcher Zack Kirby also called a good game behind the plate for us," said Marshall County coach Mike Reese.
The Dusters, meanwhile, finished with six hits and five walks against three Rocket hurlers. Jesse Kilpatrick and Dylan McKnight both tallied two hits to lead Marshall County at the plate with Kilpatrick driving in three runs. Brandon Bush also added a triple and 2 RBI, while Aaron Thomason recorded a single, a walk, and a run scored.
Forrest starting pitcher Jesse Pruitt suffered the loss on the mound after allowing three runs over two and two-thirds innings on three hits and two walks.
Marshall County failed to score in the first two innings of play, but gave McDaniel all the offensive support he would need in the top of the third, as they pushed across three runs in the frame to take a 3-0 lead. Following a leadoff walk by Kirby, courtesy runner Grayson Wiles advanced to second on a McDaniel sacrifice bunt before coming home on a RBI double by Kilpatrick to make it 1-0. After Thomason drew a walk, Bush plated him and Kilpatrick with a two-run triple to centerfield.
"We made some adjustments at the plate after we went through the lineup the first time and were able to string some hits together," said Reese.
In the bottom of the third, Thaddeus Reyes reached first base with two outs thanks to a Duster throwing error, but was thrown out at second by Kirby on a stolen base attempt a few moments later to end the inning.
Marshall County broke the game open in the top of the fourth by crossing home plate four times in the frame on the strength of a McKnight double, a pair of walks from Vernon and Kirby, two wild pitches, a McDaniel RBI fielder's choice and a two-run bloop single by Kilpatrick to forge a 7-0 advantage.
McDaniel then kept the mercy rule in effect by retiring the Rockets in order in each of the next two innings to secure the Duster victory.