Giles County defeats Thunder in title game
Needing two wins to take home the 14-year old Eastern Tennessee Babe Ruth State tournament title, the Marshall County Thunder were unable to force a deciding game against Giles County, as they dropped an 8-3 decision to the tourney hosts in the championship round on Tuesday night at Sam Davis Park.
Giles County narrowly defeated the Thunder 16-14 two days earlier in the third round of the tournament, but endured no nervous moments in Tuesday's contest and built a 7-1 lead through the first five innings of play before coasting to the five-run victory.
"Even though we didn't win it, this group improved a level from what they did last year and I'm real happy for them," said Marshall County coach Mike Mills. "I was extremely proud of this team for the way they conducted themselves during the tournament too. The tournament directors and umpires both mentioned that they were one of the best behaved teams here."
Although he recorded only three strikeouts, Giles County starting pitcher Taylor Gilbert kept the Thunder off balance at the plate with his breaking ball and yielded three runs, only one earned, in seven innings of work on seven hits and two walks.
Wilson Limbaugh went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored to lead Marshall County offensively, while Ethan Poteete (1 RBI), Jesse Pruitt, Derrick McKnight, and Ethan Evans each had one hit.
Giles County, meanwhile finished with 10 hits and five walks against three Thunder hurlers. Rob McMasters swung the hottest bat for Giles County and went 3-for-4 with a double and 1 RBI, while Gilbert (3 RBI), centerfielder William McRae (2 RBI), and Josh Rogers (1 RBI) tallied two hits apiece.
Marshall County starting pitcher Josh McKnight suffered the loss on the mound, yielding five runs, three earned, over one and two-thirds innings on four hits and one walk.
The Thunder left men on the corners in the top of the first inning before Giles County pushed across two runs in the bottom half of the frame with the help of two errors and a pair of RBI singles by Gilbert and McRae to grab a 2-0 lead.
Marshall County narrowed the gap to 2-1 by tallying a run in the top of the second on two hits and an error. After leading off the frame with a single, Pruitt stole second before advancing to third on a two-out infield single by Evans. Pruitt then scored when McRae dropped a shallow fly ball by Limbaugh.
In the bottom of the second, Giles County opened up some breathing room and plated three runs in the frame on the strength of a Hayden Miller RBI groundout, a sacrifice fly by Gilbert, and a McMasters RBI single to forge a 5-1 advantage.
Following a scoreless third inning, Giles County stretched their lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a McRae RBI single before opening up a 7-1 advantage in the fifth on a RBI single by Gilbert.
The Thunder trimmed the deficit to 7-2 in the top of the sixth when Jones scored on a passed ball after drawing a walk and advancing to third on a couple of groundouts by Pruitt and Derrick McKnight.
Giles County tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth behind a Rogers RBI single to make it 8-2, before Marshall County notched a run in the top of the seventh with the aid of a leadoff double by Limbaugh and a RBI infield single by Poteete for the 8-3 final.