Tigers take down McMinn Central

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Marshall County's Jay Howard slides around the tag of McMinn Central catcher Eric Hart while scoring on a RBI single by Grayson Wiles in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Marshall County Tigers (7-1) notched their third straight win on Friday afternoon when they defeated the McMinn Central Chargers 8-1 in six innings at Joe George Field in the Rocket/Tiger Classic.

After Marshall County jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, the Chargers (6-6) trimmed the deficit to 3-1 in the top of the fourth inning.

Out of reach

The Tigers then put the contest out of reach by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth to open up an 8-1 advantage before the game's time limit expired at the end of the sixth inning.

Bolstered by their late offensive flurry, Marshall County finished with eight hits and six walks against two McMinn Central pitchers to go along with four Charger errors.

Cleanup hitter Jay Murphy continues to swing a hot bat for the Tigers, as he went 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Bubba Houghton (2 RBI), Grayson Wiles (1 RBI), Connor Bush (1 RBI), Lane Whitesell, and Chandler Harmon each tallied a hit for Marshall County as well.

Strong pitching

Tiger starting pitcher Brooks Leftwich and reliever Aaron Hobbs, meanwhile, teamed up to limit McMinn Central to just five hits in the contest. Leftwich issued four walks, but yielded only one hit and recorded six strikeouts in three scoreless innings of work to earn his second victory of the year. Hobbs then allowed one unearned run over the final three innings on four hits and no walks to go along with five strikeouts.

Gage Black went 2-for-2 to pace the Chargers at the plate, while Will McInturff, Hunter Shaw, and Jake Croft each had one hit. McMinn Central starting pitcher Tony Guardiola suffered the loss after giving up five runs, three earned, over four innings on four hits and five walks.

Marshall County capitalized on some shoddy defense by the Chargers in the bottom of the first inning, as they plated three runs in the frame on the strength of a Whitesell single, a RBI single by Murphy, two walks, and a pair of McMinn Central errors to grab a 3-0 lead.

The Chargers had a chance to cut into the deficit in the top of the third when they put runners on first and second with no outs thanks to a Black single and a walk by McInturff, but Leftwich fanned the next three McMinn Central batters to extinguish the threat.

In the top of the fourth, the Tigers gift wrapped a run for the Chargers, as Croft scored on a Marshall County throwing error to narrow the gap to 3-1 after singling with one out and advancing to third on two wild pitches.

Five-run fifth

Guardiola held the Tigers scoreless in the bottom of the fourth, but Marshall County got their bats going in the fifth inning and pushed across five runs in the frame to forge an 8-1 lead.

Following a leadoff walk by Cameron Isley, pinch runner Jay Howard advanced to second on a single by Murphy. Wiles then drove in Isley with a RBI double before Houghton plated pinch runner Wilson Limbaugh and Wiles with a two-run single to make it 6-1. After Harmon singled, Houghton scored on a RBI single by Bush before courtesy runner Madison Peete stole home when Bush got caught in a run down between first and second base.

Hobbs then worked around a leadoff double by Shaw in the top of the sixth to close out the win for the Tigers.