Manchester eliminates Thunder from State tournament
On Monday night, the Marshall County Thunder were eliminated from the 15-year old Babe Ruth State tournament when they dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to Manchester at Lawrence County High School in the third round of the loser's bracket.
The Thunder held a 4-2 lead through the first five innings of play, but Manchester came storming back in the top of the sixth and pushed across three runs in the frame to seize a 5-4 advantage.
Manchester then snuffed out a Marshall County scoring threat in the bottom of the sixth before the Thunder went down quietly in the seventh inning.
Hindered by the loss of leadoff hitter Wilson Limbaugh, the Thunder mustered just four hits and three walks against three Manchester pitchers.
Starting hurler Stuart Warner doubled and drove in a run to account for Marshall County's lone extra base hit of the contest, while Nate Huitt (1 RBI), Madison Peete, and shortstop Ethan Poteete all singled.
Despite suffering the loss, Warner turned in a gutsy effort on the mound and pitched all seven innings, allowing nine hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts. Marshall County also made Warner's job tougher by committing four errors, which led to three of Manchester's five runs.
"We were shorthanded tonight, but we got an incredible pitching performance from Stuart Warner. I don't normally ask him to go that deep into the game, but he dug down deep for us," said Thunder coach Mike Mills. "We just couldn't get out of that sixth inning. We had a couple of shots, but just couldn't do it."
Dusty Harriman went 3-for-4 with a homerun and 1 RBI to lead Manchester's offensive attack, while Wyatt Day added two hits. Manchester starting pitcher Dallas Bryan picked up the win on the mound and yielded four runs in five innings of work on four hits and two walks. Relievers Samuel Brown and Wyatt Day each tossed one scoreless inning with Day earning the save.
Both teams came up empty in the first two innings of play before Manchester put runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the third thanks to an infield single by Day and a hit batsman. Day then tried to score on a single by Alex Williams, but Poteete threw him out at home plate to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Manchester broke the scoreless stalemate by plating two runs in the frame with the help of singles from Harriman and Brown, a passed ball, and two Marshall County errors to take a 2-0 lead.
The Thunder quickly responded and pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull ahead 3-2. Poteete laced a leadoff single into centerfield and advanced to second on a balk before Warner belted a RBI double into the left centerfield gap. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Warner scored on a RBI fielder's choice by McKnight, while McKnight reached second base on the play thanks to a Manchester throwing error. McKnight then came home on another throwing error a few moments later to cap the scoring in the inning.
Marshall County stretched their lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Peete raced home on a RBI single by Huitt after leading off the inning with a single and stealing second.
The Thunder's lead would evaporate in the top of the sixth, however, as Manchester tallied three runs in the frame on the strength of a Harriman solo homerun, a couple of singles from Boone Riddle and Caleb Hunt, a RBI fielder's choice by Kohl Young, and two errors to grab a 5-4 advantage.
Marshall County had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with one out on a Derrick McKnight walk and two errors, but Brown retired the next two Thunder batters on a strikeout and a groundout to escape the jam.
Day then struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the win for Manchester.