Giles County outlasts Thunder
The Marshall County Thunder turned in a valiant effort, but fell into the loser's bracket of the 14-year old Eastern Tennessee Babe Ruth State tournament on Sunday night when they dropped a hard fought 16-14 decision to tourney host Giles County at Sam Davis Park.
Capitalizing on a slew of early mistakes by the Thunder, Giles County raced out to a 13-4 lead in the top of the second inning and appeared headed for an easy victory.
After Marshall County whittled the deficit to 13-9 in the bottom of the second, Giles County tallied three runs in the top of the fourth to open up a 16-9 advantage.
The Thunder then narrowed the gap to 16-11 in the fifth inning but saw a last ditch comeback attempt in the bottom of the seventh fall short en route to suffering their first loss of the tournament.
"After the way we started, that was a devil of a battle we put up. I was proud of the fact that the kids never laid down," said Marshall County coach Mike Mills.
The Thunder easily turned in their best offensive performance of the tourney and finished with 12 hits and 14 walks against five Giles County pitchers.
Starting hurler Landon Jones spearheaded Marshall County's comeback by going 3-for-3 with two walks, a double, 1 RBI, and three runs scored. Jesse Pruitt (3 RBI), Boone Sweeney (2 RBI), and Josh McKnight (1 RBI) notched two hits apiece for the Thunder as well, while Wilson Limbaugh (1 RBI), Bryce Oliver, and Derrick McKnight each had one hit with Limbaugh drawing four walks.
Giles County tallied 10 hits and 10 walks against four Marshall County hurlers, but also stole 10 bases and took advantage of six Thunder errors.
William McRae led Giles County's offensive attack by going 3-for-4 with a walk, four stolen bases, and two runs scored, while Rob McMasters and Josh Rogers both registered two hits and a RBI.
Jones suffered the loss on the mound for Marshall County, allowing six runs over one-third of an inning on one hit and four walks.
Giles County relief pitcher Matthew Dunnavant picked up the win after yielding two runs in four and one-third innings of work on three hits and four walks. McRae earned the save for Giles County by retiring the lone batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Things looked bleak for the Thunder at the start of the game, as Giles County pushed across seven runs in the top of the first inning with the help of six walks, three Marshall County errors, an infield single by McRae, and three stolen bases to grab a 7-0 lead.
The Thunder quickly counterpunched and crossed home plate four times in the bottom half of the first on the strength of a Sweeney two-run double, a RBI single by Jones, and a Giles County throwing error to cut the deficit to 7-4.
Giles County plated six more runs in the top of the second on five hits, a walk, and a hit batsman to open up a 13-4 advantage, but Marshall County came charging back again in the bottom of the inning and closed the gap to 13-9 thanks to an error, a pair of RBI singles from Pruitt and Josh McKnight, and two bases loaded walks by Ethan Evans and Limbaugh.
Following a scoreless third inning, Giles County scored three runs in the top of the fourth behind a McMasters RBI single, a double steal, and a sacrifice fly by Nathan Harvel to forge a 16-9 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Thunder tallied two runs with the aid of a Sweeney bloop single, a walk by Jones, a wild pitch, and a Pruitt RBI single to narrow the gap to 16-11.
Marshall County then crossed home plate three times in the bottom of the seventh on a Sweeney walk, a Jones double, a RBI groundout by Pruitt, a balk, a Derrick McKnight double, and two wild pitches to slice the deficit to 16-14. The Thunder still had runners on first and second thanks to a couple of two-out walks from Payton Hood and Limbaugh, but McRae retired the next Marshall County batter on a groundout to salvage the win for Giles County.