Dusters fall in title clash
The Marshall County Dusters (17-11) finished second in the Tullahoma Classic after dropping a 7-3 decision to Shelbyville Post 23 in the championship game on Sunday night at Tullahoma High School.
Marshall County had defeated Shelbyville 9-2 earlier in the tournament, but Post 23 got the better of the Dusters this time around and built a 5-0 lead through the first five innings of play before taking home the four-run victory.
Bolstered by a four-run third inning, Shelbyville tallied nine hits and a walk against three Marshall County pitchers. Leadoff hitter Trent Layman helped spark Post 23's offense by going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Josh Nave and former Cornersville High School standout Cody Blackburn notched both two hits and a RBI for Post 23 as well, while L.J. Sharp (2 RBI), Taylor Paschal, and Stetson Blackwell each added a double.
Duster starting pitcher Ryan Richardson suffered the loss and yielded three runs over two plus innings on three hits and a walk. Chandler Harmon was the most effective of Marshall County's two relievers and gave up two runs in three innings on three hits.
Marshall County finished with eight hits and two walks against two Shelbyville hurlers, but left seven runners on base overall. Trent Wiles and Zack Kirby registered two hits apiece to lead the Dusters at the plate, while Matt Sharp (1 RBI), Hayden Bailey (1 RBI), Connor Bush, and Bubba Houghton each had one hit.
Post 23 starting pitcher Landon Jeans picked up the win on the mound and yielded three runs in six and a third innings of work. Blackburn came on in relief of Jeans and retired both Marshall County batters that he faced.
Marshall County had a chance to take the lead in the top of the first inning when Bush beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a Cameron Isley sacrifice bunt, but Jeans retired the next two Duster hitters on a groundout and a fly out to extinguish the threat.
After Richardson held Shelbyville scoreless over the first two innings, Post 23 got their bats going and crossed home plate four times in the bottom of the third on the strength of a double by Paschal, a Nave bunt single, a bloop RBI double by Layman, a L.J. Sharp two-run double, and a RBI single by Blackburn to seize a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Shelbyville opened up a 5-0 advantage when L.J. Sharp scored on a passed ball after reaching first base on an error and advancing to third on a Blackburn infield single and a passed ball.
The Dusters tried to claw their way back into the contest in the top of the sixth and pushed across three runs in the frame to narrow the gap to 5-3. Following consecutive singles by Kirby and Wiles, courtesy runner Lane Whitesell was tagged out at third on a fielder's choice by Bush. Matt Sharp plated Wiles with a RBI bloop single while Bush also scored on the play thanks to a Post 23 throwing error to make it 5-2. Bailey then drove in Matt Sharp by lining an RBI single into left field.
Shelbyville quickly counterpunched and plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth with the help of a Blackwell double and a pair of RBI singles by Nave and Layman to stretch their lead to 7-3.
Marshall County tried to mount one final rally in the top of the seventh and put runners on first and second with one out thanks to singles from Houghton and Kirby, but Blackburn retired then next two Duster batters on a strikeout and an infield pop up to close out the win for Post 23.