Murfreesboro Central Magnet edges Mudcats in title game

Thursday, June 27, 2013
Middle Tennessee catcher Boone Sweeney tags out Murfreesboro Central Magnet's Will Norfleet at home plate in the top of the fifth inning. Photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Middle Tennessee Mudcats had to settle for second place in the Rocket Summer Classic after falling 8-7 to the Murfreesboro Central Magnet Tigers in the championship game at Forrest High School.

Having defeated the Tigers 3-0 earlier in the tournament during pool play, the Mudcats held a 4-2 lead through the first four innings of play but Murfreesboro Central Magnet rallied to seize a 5-4 advantage in the top of the fifth.

After Middle Tennessee tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers took an 8-5 lead in the top of the sixth on a three-run homer by Zach Long before staving off a couple of Mudcat comeback attempts to hold on for the one-run victory.

"We did real well. We played a lot of schools that are bigger than us, but we held our own and had a chance to win it at the end," said Middle Tennessee coach Chris Parker. "They are a well coached team and have a chance to get back to the double AA State tournament.."

Bolstered by their late offensive surge, Murfreesboro Central Magnet pounded out 12 hits against four Mudcat pitchers to go along with two walks and two Middle Tennessee errors. Trey Schueler (1 RBI) and Alex Ropp both tallied three hits to lead the Tigers at the plate, while Long (3 RBI), third baseman Will Norfleet (3 RBI), and starting hurler Michael Zipay notched two hits apiece.

Middle Tennessee reliever Logan Hollingsworth suffered the loss on the mound after allowing one run over an inning and a third on one hit.

Middle Tennessee's Logan Hollingsworth slides safely into third base while advancing 90 on a groundout by Boone Sweeney in the bottom of the second inning.

The Mudcats finished with a modest seven hits against three MCM pitchers, but were aided by seven walks and three Tiger errors. Hollingsworth paced Middle Tennessee offensively by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Jacob Jones (2 RBI), Austin Harber (1 RBI), Tanner Garvin (1 RBI), Ryan Yelensky, and Alex Brewer all had one hit.

MCM reliever Austin Timberlake picked up the win and gave up two runs over two innings on two hits and two walks.

Middle Tennessee took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Hollingsworth scored on an error after singling and advancing to third on an errant pickoff throw and a groundout by Sweeney.

The Tigers tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third on a RBI single by Zipay, before the Mudcats tallied a run in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a Landon Jones sacrifice fly to pull ahead 2-1.

MCM then knotted the score at 2-2 in the top of the fourth on the strength of a RBI double by Norfleet, but Middle Tennessee pushed across two runs in the bottom of the fourth with the help of a Hollingsworth double, a hit batsman, a walk by Austin Welty, a Jacob Jones RBI walk, and a RBI groundout by Harber to pull ahead 4-2.

After the Tigers crossed home plate three times in the top of the fifth behind a RBI bunt single by Schueler and a Norfleet two-run double to claim a 5-4 lead, the Mudcats retied the game in the bottom half of the frame on a RBI groundout by Landon Jones.

In the top of the sixth, Murfreesboro Central Magnet put men on first and second with two outs thanks to a single by Ropp and a Zipay walk before Long belted a three-run shot over the left field fence to stake the Tigers to an 8-5 lead.

Middle Tennessee kept battling and notched two runs in the bottom of the sixth with the aid of a RBI double by Garvin and a Jacob Jones RBI infield single to whittle the deficit to 8-7.

The Mudcats then put the tying run at third with one out thanks to a Landon Jones walk, an errant pickoff throw, and a passed ball, but Norfleet made a leaping catch on a line drive by Hollingsworth before Timberlake retired the next Middle Tennessee batter on a groundout to end the game.