Sparta ousts 15U stars from state tournament
The Marshall County 15U All-Stars were hoping for a re-match versus Lawrenceburg in the Babe Ruth state tournament finals in Lebanon, but Sparta ruined the plan, ousting head coach Bradley Maddox's squad 5-4 Monday night in a well-played game that went down to the wire.
"These kids worked as hard as they could have possibly worked, I was proud of each and every one of them," said Maddox after the game.
Marshall County banged out 11 hits in the game with Zack Gordon leading the way in a 3-4 performance at the plate with two doubles and two runs scored.
Gordon got things going in the first inning, doubling with one out, moving to third on a passed ball and scoring on a Chandler Harmon sacrifice fly.
Marshall County starting pitcher Tanner Garvin kept Sparta off the scoreboard until the bottom of the third when three consecutive ground ball hits, a passed ball and the only miscue of the night in the field by Marshall County produced two runs for Sparta.
In the top of the fifth, Gordon led off with a base hit, took second on a bobble and Harmon followed with an RBI base knock to tie the game at two.
Harmon took second base on the throw home and Garvin followed with a double to center to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
Connor Mealer came in to run for Garvin and would cross home plate on a Sparta error to double up the score at 4-2.
In the home half of the fifth, Sparta re-knotted the contest on a single by Tyler Qualls, a double from Allen Newport and a base hit RBI by Tyler Brock.
Jody Sullivan and Connor Bush banged back-to-back base hits with one out in the top of the sixth, but Marshall County could not produce a run.
Garvin got out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the bottom of the inning, getting the third out on a nice running catch by Sullivan in right field.
Marshall County threatened in the top of the seventh inning as Garvin was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame.
Mealer came in to run for Garvin once again and Lane Whitesell made it first and second with no outs when he slammed a line-drive single to center field.
Sparta hurler Ethan M. Roberts struck out the next Marshall County batter before the turning point of the game took place when Dunn Crowder grounded a ball to short that was bobbled.
Mealer, trying to make something happen, rounded third and headed for home, but was thrown out on a close play at the plate.
A pop-up to third ended the inning.
Newport drew a walk off Marshall County reliever Curt Taylor to lead off the home portion of the seventh and Brock followed with a single.
Taylor whiffed the next Sparta batter before walking Seth Davis to load the sacks.
Ethan T. Roberts came to the plate and laid down a squeeze bunt that was fielded by Taylor, who threw to Harmon at home for a force out.
Colton Hudgens came up next and ended Marshall County's all-star run with a double to deep left.
"We played a solid game from start to finish," said Maddox. "We struggled at the plate early, but we pieced together some runs. They manufactured the way they were supposed to, so I guess it just wasn't our night. it just didn't turn out the way we wanted it to."
Harmon (1-3) drove home two in the ballgame and scored once, Whitesell went 2-4, and Garvin went 2-2 with an RBI and was hit by pitches on two occasions, while hurling the first six innings on the mound.
Chase Hensley, Bush and Sullivan each had one hit apiece for Marshall County.