Howard electrifies Storm to district title

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The Marshall County 13U All-Stars pose with the District 8 hardware after pummeling Lawrenceburg 14-2 in the title game Monday night. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Marshall County Babe Ruth League 13-year old MVP Jay Howard set the tone for victory in Lawrenceburg Monday night, electrifying the crowd with a first inning, two-run inside-the-park homerun that sparked the 13U All-Stars to a huge 14-2 District 8 title clinching win.

"We have kind of beat up each other over the years in this district, it has been back and forth and this was our year," said Marshall County head coach Mike Bailey. "These kids have played on different teams in Babe Ruth all summer and we have had just four practices, but they have really become a cohesive bunch."

While Howard led the offensive Storm surge, Brayden Gentry dominated on the mound, picking up the victory as he gave up just one hit, walked one and struck out six in four innings of work on the hill.

Jay Howard (4) slams a first inning inside the park homerun that put the Storm up 2-0 early in their 14-2 win at Lawrenceburg that sends them to the state tournament this weekend in Cookeville.

"You can never quit on teams like this because they have scored a lot of runs in this tournament playing each other," said Bailey. "So I have to give credit to our pitching and our defense for shutting them down like they did."

Before Howard's two-run dinger in the bottom of the first, Gentry set down the hometown nine 1-2-3 in the top of the inning and had no trouble in the second inning, setting the stage for the knockout punch from the offense.

The Storm sent fifteen batters to the plate in the frame, scoring nine runs on three different Lawrenceburg pitchers.

Jonathan Lykins drew two of the nine bases on balls issued by Lawrenceburg in the inning, while Logan Bailey and Gentry drilled two-run base hits.

Thomas Hawkins came up with an RBI base knock and Marshall County backstop Jacob Jones knocked in another run with a bases loaded walk.

In the top of third, Gentry continued to dominate, retiring the side in order on two strikeouts and a grounder to Trent Richardson at second base.

Howard led off the home half of the third with a frozen rope to left and zoomed all the way around from first to score one batter later when the Lawrenceburg defense could not handle a hot shot off the bat of Richardson.

Bailey knocked in Richardson with a base hit and two batters later, Bailey came around to score on an RBI base knock by Luke Cunningham to make it a 14-0 ballgame.

After Marshall County committed back-to-back errors in the top of the fourth, Lawrenceburg came up with their first hit of the game by Riley Faulkner to finally get on the board, but the Storm defense came up big on an around-the-horn double play started by Ben Taylor at third base that sent Lawrenceburg back out to the field.

Bailey called off the dogs in the bottom of the inning and Lawrenceburg managed a lone run on two hits in the top of the fifth before Jordan Jent struck out Cole Watson to end the game and send the Storm to the state tournament, beginning Friday night in Cookeville.

"We expect the state to be very tough, it always is," said Bailey. "I have no idea who we will open up with or who is in it, but you can expect all the teams to be tough and we will really have to battle, so you never know. Hopefully, we can get a good draw."