Spartans outlast Tigers, 1-0
If the Marshall County Tigers hope to repeat as District 12-AA champions, they will have to dig themselves out of an early season hole after losing 1-0 to the Summit Spartans at home in nine innings to fall to 0-2 in conference play.
The two teams were locked in a 0-0 tie through the first eight innings of play before the Spartans scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth to take a 1-0 lead. Summit (2-4, 2-0 District) then snuffed out a Marshall County rally attempt in the bottom of the ninth to complete the season sweep of the Tigers (1-2).
"We've just got to keep plugging because we've got another District game on Thursday," said MCHS coach Steve Reese. "It looks dim now, but we can get some help and get back into the race. We need to put a winning streak together and hope for the best."
Marshall County starting pitcher Matt Sharp suffered the loss on the mound, but certainly deserved a better fate after recording 10 strikeouts and yielding one unearned run in eight plus innings of work on five hits and a walk. Ryan McDaniel then came on in relief of Sharp in the top of the ninth and allowed no hits and no walks over one inning.
"Matt pitched well enough to win 99 out of 100 ballgames. He pitched his guts out tonight and I can't say enough good things about him because he did a super job," said Reese.
Having scored a total of just five runs in their two previous games, the Tigers continued to struggle offensively and mustered only four hits and three walks against two Spartan hurlers. Hayden Bailey tallied two hits to lead MCHS at the plate, while Sharp and Dylan McKnight each had one hit.
Summit relief pitcher Jordan Kelly picked up the win and allowed a walk in one scoreless inning of work. Spartan starting pitcher Zach Mather had to settle for the no decision after giving up only four hits and two walks over eight shutout innings.
Nick Walker tripled to account for the Spartans lone extra base hit of the game, while Karlton Turcois, Nate Sumner, Cody Campbell, and Mather all singled.
Summit left two men on base in the top of the second inning before Marshall County had a chance to get on the board in the bottom of fourth when Dylan McKnight drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Sharp sacrifice bunt. Following a fly out by McDaniel, Bailey laced a single into right field, but Spartan right fielder Will Dalton gunned down McKnight at home plate to end the inning.
Big chances missed
Summit then stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the next two innings, before the Tigers failed to capitalize on a no out bases loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, the Spartans threatened again when Turcois legged out an infield single, stole second, and advanced to third on a MCHS error with one out. Sharp, however, bore down and struck out the next two Summit batters to maintain the scoreless tie.
Mather then extinguished a Marshall County scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth before Walker reached base on an error and Dalton was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the ninth. After both runners moved up 90 feet on a groundout by Mather, Walker raced home on a wild pitch to give Summit a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth thanks to an error and a Bubba Houghton walk, but Kelley fanned the next MCHS batter to clinch the win for the Spartans.