Stars collapse against Cookeville
If the Marshall County Stars want to take home the 15-year old Babe Ruth State Tournament title, they will have do it the hard way after suffering a 7-5 loss to Cookeville in the first round on Friday night in Lebanon.
Marshall County appeared to be in control midway through the contest and held a 5-1 lead through the first four innings of play. The Stars, however, faltered down the stretch, as Cookeville scored six runs over the final three frames to drop Marshall County into the loser's bracket.
Walks, errors hurt
Cookeville finished with a modest six hits against two Star hurlers, but took advantage of five walks and three Marshall County errors, which led to four of their seven runs. Dakota Colson (2 RBI), Kaleb Clayton (2 RBI), and Jerry Hammons each notched two hits to lead Cookeville offensively.
Cookeville starting pitcher Cody Hutcherson had to work out of trouble on several occasions, but went the distance on the mound to earn the victory and yielded five runs in seven innings of work on eight hits and five walks to go along with six strikeouts. The Stars also stranded 10 runners on base overall, including six in scoring position.
Ben Taylor and Iendi Biggers both tallied two hits and a RBI to pace Marshall County at the plate, while Brett McGehee (1 RBI), starting pitcher Brayden Gentry (1 RBI), Austin Wood, and Hunter Bradford had one hit apiece.
Despite racking up 10 strikeouts over five and two-third innings, Gentry suffered the loss on the mound and gave up six runs, only two earned, on three hits and four walks. McGehee came on in relief of Gentry and allowed one run in one and two-third innings on three hits and a walk.
Cookeville grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Hammons raced home on a wild pitch after reaching base on an error, stealing second, and advancing to third on a wild pitch.
The Stars left the bases loaded in the second inning, but plated two runs in the bottom of the third inning to pull ahead 2-1. Following a leadoff single by Bradford, McGehee hit into a fielder's choice to replace Bradford on the base paths. After advancing to second on a single by Wood, McGehee scored on a Cookeville error while Gentry reached second base on the play. Taylor then laced a RBI single into left field to drive in Wood.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marshall County padded their lead by pushing across three runs in the frame on the strength of a Will Johnson walk, two wild pitches, and RBI singles by Biggers, McGehee, and Gentry to forge a 5-1 advantage.
Cookeville began to chip away at the deficit in the top of the fifth and narrowed the gap to 5-3 on a two-out, two-run single by Clayton.
Things continued to go awry for the Stars in the top of the sixth, as Cookeville crossed home plate three more times in the inning with the help of a wild pitch on a third strike, an error, a walk, another wild pitch, and a Colson two-run single to seize a 6-5 lead.
After Marshall County stranded men on first and third in the bottom of the sixth, Cookeville tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh thanks to a RBI single by Hammons to open up a 7-5 advantage.
Hutcherson then retired the Stars in order in the bottom of the seventh to close out the win for Cookeville.