Gallant effort falls short

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The Marshall County Bombers line up at the opening ceremonies at the Babe Ruth 14U Southeast Region Tournament at Jupiter, Florida. Photo submitted

Bombers downed by 2 runs in SE championship

The Marshall County Bombers were tantalizingly close, coming up two runs short of a berth in the Babe Ruth World Series.

"It's been a great ride. These kids have nothing to hang their heads about," Marshall County manager Greg Bradford said of his team, which fell 7-6 to Gainesville, Virginia, in the championship game. "They swept the district, swept the state and came down here to the Southeast Region where nobody knew them and made it to the championship game.

Ethan Mealer lived up to his Pitcher of the Year Award this season in the Marshall County Babe Ruth League. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

"It was a great accomplishment and I still think we were the best team there."

Top seed

The 14-under all-stars came all the way back from a first-round blanking at the Southeast Region Tournament to win back-to-back games over Greenville, North Carolina, and host Jupiter, Florida, to claim the top seed in the National Division of their four-team pool bracket.

Chapel Hills' Dustin Brashear, Dylan Pendley and Jaylen Smith were all integral members of the Marshall County squad. Photo submitted

"After the first game, Dylan Pendley came to me and said, 'coach don't worry about, we've been here before and we will do it,'" Bradford said. "That kid is such a motivatorr. He never let up and kept them going all the time, even after the final loss he told them what a great job they did and they'll always be a team, no matter what."

Bradford talked about the closing ceremonies where the host Mom from Jupiter said, "Dylan Pendley, before you leave I want to take some of that energy and motivation and bottle it up and spread it all over Jupiter."

Early win, then...

Gauge Anderson led the Bombers in batting, sporting a hefty .600 average. Photo submitted

In Saturday's championship bracket round, the Bombers blasted Sarasota, Florida, 9-2 behind a 10-hit attack and a complete game effort on the mound by Dustin Brashear.

The Bombers had to have one more win to take the title, but they would have to beat the Virginia state champions, which came in to the contest as the lone undefeated team in the tournament.

Marshall County scored three runs in the top of the first inning and added another in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead.

Cornersville's Caleb Crowell, called the "Iron Man" by manager Greg Bradford, caught every inning of every game in the tournament. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

Gainesville responded with a single run in the bottom of the second before a three-run third inning tied the game.

Gainesville roars

In the top of the fifth inning, the Bombers took a 6-4 lead, only to see it slip away as Gainesville scored one run in the fifth and two more in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead 6-4.

Marshall County manager Greg Bradford and his son Carson display the runners-up hardware after the title game. Photo submitted

Marshall County loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh before a shot off the bat of Brashear was run down on a game-ending play by the Gainesville center fielder.

"When Dustin came up there, I still knew we had a chance and he hit a shot, but Gainesville had a really good center fielder and he played it perfect," Bradford said.

On the mound

Ethan Mealer went the distance on the mound for the Bombers, allowing seven hits and three earned runs.

"Mealer threw well," the coach said. "I was impressed with his throwing. We just committed a couple of errors behind him. That's an outstanding performance in the southeast region."

Marshall County committed five errors in the championship game.

Much support

The Bombers' runners-up finish tied the 1996 14-U team as the best finish for a Babe Ruth team.

"I knew Marshall County was big in supporting baseball and it showed. I think they had like 800 hits on the radio, listening to us and supporting us," Bradford said. "And the families down there were awesome. We had as big a crowd at the games as host Jupiter."

Looking to '16

Bradford hopes to put the team back together next year for another run as 15-year olds and he thinks they have a great chance to go to the World Series.

"They have one more shot at it," he said. "If we can get those five Chapel Hill kids back and the Lewisburg and Cornersville kids, I'm sure we can go to the World Series with this team."


Marshall County vs. Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota 101 000 0-2 6 3

Marshall County 240 021 x-9 10 3

Marshall County: Dylan Pendley 3-for-3, Jaylen Smith 2-for-2, Dustin Brashear 1-for-2, Caleb Crowell 1-for-1, Gauge Anderson 1-for-2, Mitchell Ford 1-for-2, Blake Distelow 1-for-1.

RBI: Dustin Brashear 3, Austin Grubbs 2, Mitchell Ford 2, Jaylen Smith 1.

WP: Dustin Brashear

Championship Game vs. Gainesville, Virginia

Marshall County 310 020 0-6 12 5

Gainesville 013 012 x-7 7 1

Marshall County: Jaylen Smith 2-for-4, Ethan Mealer 2-for-4, Walker Whaley 2-for-4, Dustin Brashear 1-for-5, Hunter Haurez 1-for-3, Caleb Crowell 1-for-4, Gauge Anderson 1-for-2.

RBI: Dustin Brashear 1, Hunter Haurez 1, Ethan Mealer 1, Caleb Crowell 1, Gauge Anderson 1.

LP: Ethan Mealer

Final Batting Stats

Dylan Pendley 7-for-15 (.467)

Jaylen Smith 7-for-16 (.438)

Dustin Brashear 5-for-13 (.385)

Hunter Haurez 3-for-12 (.250)

Ethan Mealer 3-for-14 (.214)

Walker Whaley 4-for-13 (.308)

Caleb Crowell 4-for-13 (.308)

Gauge Anderson 6-for-10 (.600)

Mitchell Ford 1-for-8 (.125)

Blake Distelow 1-for-1 (1.000)

Preston Shelton 0-for-1

Allante Watts 0-0, BB, RS

Austin Grubbs 0-0, 2RBI