Dusters advance to Southeast Region semifinals
The Marshall County Dusters advanced to the semifinals of the Senior Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Tournament by finishing second in their pool last week at Andalusia, Alabama.
Marshall County lost to Fairfax, Virginia 10-2 in their opening game of the tournament on Wednesday, but bounced back with a 9-5 victory over Startown Optimist, North Carolina on Thursday. The Dusters then wrapped up pool play by defeating tourney host Covington County 7-0 on Friday.
In their opening contest, Marshall County battled Fairfax to a 0-0 tie through the first three innings of play before grabbing a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning on a sacrifice by Bubba Houghton.
The wheels fell off for the Dusters shortly after that point, as Fairfax plated four runs in the top of the fifth to seize a 4-1 advantage prior to crossing home plate six times in the sixth to stretch their lead to 10-1.
Marshall County then scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a RBI single by Cameron Isley for the 10-2 final.
Aided by their late offensive explosion, Fairfax outhit the Dusters 10-7 overall. Aaron Tucker (1 RBI) and Jimmy Nickles both tallied two hits to lead Virginia at the plate, while Zach Thurston (2 RBI), George Watkins (1 RBI), Kyle Wilkenson (1 RBI), Jake D'Ercole, Adam Sisk, and Matt Sedlock each had one hit.
Relief pitcher Michael Camarata picked up the victory for Fairfax and allowed one unearned run over two innings on three hits.
Isley (1 RBI), Connor Bush, Lane Whitesell, Blake Darnell, Madison Peete, and Josh McKnight notched one hit apiece for the Dusters. Isley also started the game on the mound for Marshall County and yielded four runs in four and two-third innings of work on five hits and five walks.
On Thursday, the Dusters trailed Startown Optimist 2-0 through the first two innings of play before tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the third on a two-run single by Whitesell.
Marshall County then took control of the game in the top of the fifth and crossed home plate four times in the frame with the help of two walks, and error, a RBI single by Whitesell, a passed ball, and a Houghton two-run single to seize a 6-2 lead.
Startown Optimist pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fifth to slice the deficit to 6-5, but the Dusters stretched their lead to 8-5 in the top of the sixth thanks to a two-run single by Whitesell.
In the top of the seventh, Marshall County tacked on an insurance run when Houghton scored on a passed ball after belting a one-out double to cap their 9-5 triumph.
The Dusters finished with a modest seven hits in the game, but took advantage of four walks and four North Carolina errors. Whitesell did the most damage at the plate for Marshall County and went 3-for-4 with 5 RBI and a run scored. Houghton also added two hits and 2 RBI, while Bush and Dunn Crowder had one hit apiece.
Whitesell got the start on the mound for the Dusters and picked up the win after giving up five runs, two earned, in six innings of work on seven hits and four walks to go along with eight strikeouts. Josh McKnight came on in relief of Whitesell and yielded one hit in one scoreless inning.
Brian Fickling went 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored to pace Startown Optimist offensively, while Gage Baldwin (2 RBI), Dalton Bolick (1 RBI), Spence Whisnant, Kyle Hall, and Jared Sigmon each notched one hit. North Carolina starting pitcher Jacob Burns suffered the loss and allowed six runs, two earned, over four and a third innings on four hits and three walks.
Marshall County had a relatively easy time with Covington County on Friday, as they plated three runs in the top of the third with the help of an error and a pair of RBI singles by Crowder and Houghton to grab a 3-0 lead before opening up a 5-0 advantage in the fourth inning thanks to a two-run single by Isley.
Marshall County then crossed home plate two more times in the top of the sixth behind a pair of RBI singles by Crowder and Houghton to polish off their 7-0 triumph.
Duster starting pitcher Madison Peete turned in a stellar performance on the mound and picked up the victory after yielding just three hits in seven scoreless innings of work while issuing no walks and recording four strikeouts.
Marshall County, conversely, pounded out 12 hits against three Covington County hurlers. Houghton and Isley both tallied three hits and 2 RBI to spearhead the Dusters offensive attack, while Crowder added two hits and 2 RBI. Bush, Blake Darnell, Whitesell, and Peete notched one hit apiece for Marshall County as well.