Bombers claim district title

Friday, July 8, 2016
The District 8 15U Babe Ruth champions Marshall County Bombers. Front row from left are, Devin Aydelott, Dustin Brashear, Jaylen Smith, Gauge Anderson, Dylan Pendley, Mitchell Ford and Walker Whaley. Back row from left are, coach Greg Bradford, Ethan Mealer, Caleb Crowell, Allante Watts, Grayson Whaley, and coaches David Looney and Damon Mealer. Not pictured: Hunter Haurez Photos by Crystal Howe

The Marshall County Bombers opened up the postseason last weekend at Sam Davis Park at Pulaski and the 15U Babe Ruth All-Stars came up huge, sweeping the District 8 Tournament.

After being awarded a forfeit in the first round over Tullahoma on Friday night, the Bombers crushed Lawrenceburg 11-0 on Saturday before coming up with a tough 2-1 win over host Giles County in Sunday's championship game.

"I thought Giles County played one the best baseball games they could possible play and I thought we were just mediocre," Marshall County coach Damon Mealer said. "Team to team, I didn't see any comparison."

Good start

Marshall County showed up ready to play Friday night and after waiting for a long time, it was disclosed that Tullahoma would not be coming due to miscommunication and its inability to field a team for the tournament.

Walker Whaley leads off first base versus Lawrence County.

The Bombers were chomping at the bit to take the field on Saturday and it showed as they scored one run in the first inning, two more in the second and they put Lawrence County away with a big eight-run third inning.

Six different players (Jaylen Smith, Ethan Mealer, Dustin Brashear, Caleb Crowell, Mitchell Ford, Grayson Whaley) all had one hit apiece for the Bombers who were also the recipients of 10 bases on balls issued by the Lawrence County pitching staff.

Ethan Mealer rears back for a pitch in his win over Lawrence County Saturday night.

Mealer pitched a two-hitter, picking up the four-inning complete game win that sent the Bombers to the title clash versus Giles County on Sunday at the fabled Sam Davis Park at Pulaski.

Next: Bobcats

The contest was a pitcher's duel from the outset as Tucker Duke took the mound for the Bobcats, while Dustin Brashear had the hill duty for the Bombers.

Marshall County managed just a lone baserunner through the first four innings, while the Bobcats left two stranded in their first five at bats.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Walker Whaley drew a one-out base on balls and went to second base on a single by Grayson Whaley.

Gauge Anderson knocked Walker Whaley home to make it 1-0, but Grayson Whaley was thrown out trying to score.

Mitchell Ford kept the inning alive with a base hit before Duke came up with an inning ending strikeout.

Giles County came back in the top of the sixth as Duke led off the frame with a walk and went to third on a base hit by Tarpley before scoring on a fielder's choice RBI by Dallan Harris.

Dustin Brashear picked up the complete game win on the mound in the title clinching contest versus host Giles County.

Brashear got the final out on a grounder back to the mound to end the inning.

Final Tiger run

Marshall County tallied its final run via the small ball route in the bottom of the sixth inning as speedster Jaylen Smith walked and stole second before going to third base on a groundout by Mealer.

Brashear helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly RBI to make it 2-1 and in the top of the seventh, Giles County got a man on base with a one out walk before Brashear whiffed the next batter and the game ended on pop-out to Smith at short.

"It should have never been that close, we are a much better team than that," Bradford said.

Mealer, Walker Whaley, Grayson Whaley, Anderson and Ford all had one hit apiece in the title game.

"We have to be more patient at the plate," Mealer said. "We treated it like we were still in league play, the strike zone got narrow and we started chasing balls out of the zone. If we can be patient, we can hit the ball with anybody in the country."

State tourney

The Bombers get a chance to defend its state championship 14U title when they host the 15U Tennessee State Babe Ruth Tournament, beginning on July 15 at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Memorial Field in Lewisburg.

Marshall County coach Greg Bradford congratulates center fielder Mitchell Ford after an inning ending out.

"We have got the defense and the pitching, we showed that over there (Pulaski)," Bradford said.

Mealer added, "If we go out and hit our marks on the mound and don't give no free rides and play defense and if our bats don't work, we will manufacture some runs."

This year's 15U squad has 10 returning players from the 14U team that won the state title last year in Johnson City.

Batting work

The 15U Marshall County Bombers get in some practice Wednesday night in preparation for the upcoming State Tournament next week at Lewisburg. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

"We are spending a lot time in the cage getting our bats going because we struggled a little bit in the district, popping the ball up," Bradford said. "Our pitching and defense is good, so we are working on our same drills there."

The Bombers advanced to the 2015 Southeast Region Tournament at Jupiter, Florida where they made it all the way to the title game before losing by one run (7-6) to Gainesville, Virginia.

"They have a chance to go win that thing, but we still have some business to win this state," Bradford said. "

Atlantic Shore, New Jersey went on to win the 14U title last season at Pine Bluff Arkansas.

This year's 15U SE Region Tournament is at Union City, TN, while the 15U World Series will be played at Williston, North Dakota, beginning on August 13.

Special time

"What's special to me about this team here is these kids may never get a chance to play baseball together again," Mealer said. "They are Bulldogs, Tigers and Rockets playing together for Marshall County. We have the bullseye on our back, but these kids have to understand, this is not last year."

"These kids may not have ever met if it wasn't for this league (Marshall County Babe Ruth)," Mealer added. "I want to thank Kenneth Demastus (Marshall Babe Ruth League president) for keeping this together and putting Marshall County Babe Ruth back on the map. These kids get valuable lessons in life and form friendships that they would never get if it wasn't for this right here."

The tournament brackets for the state tournament will be released early next week and Bradford and Mealer want fans to come out to support the players from all three county high schools.

Marshall County shortstop Jaylen Smith grabs a ground ball and guns to first base for an out versus Giles County.

"We would love to see the whole county come out and support these kids," both coaches stated. "We would love to see Chapel Hill, Lewisburg and Cornersville come out here and pack the place out, because they are the future of high school baseball here in the county."

Lawrence County 000 0-0 2 2

Marshall County 1 2 8 X-11 6 0

Marshall County: Jaylen Smith 1-for-3, Ethan Mealer 1-for-3, Dustin Brashear 1-for-3, Caleb Crowell 1-for-3, Mitchell Ford 1-for-2, Grayson Whaley 1-for-2

RS: Smith 2, Grayson Whaley 2, Mealer, Brashear, Crowell, Walker Whaley, Ford, Gauge Anderson, Devin Aydelott

BB: Walker Whaley 2, Anderson 2, Smith, Brashear, Ford, Grayson Whaley, Aydelott, Dylan Pendley

WP: Ethan Mealer

LP: Coleman

Giles County 000 001 0-1 3 0

Marshall County 000 011 X-2 5 0

Giles County: Tarpley 1-for-3, Dallan Harris 1-for-3, Dylan Carmen 1-1

RS: Tucker Duke

BB: Carmen 2, Duke

RBI: Harris

Marshall County: Ethan Mealer 1-for-3, Walker Whaley 1-for-2, Grayson Whaley 1-for-2, Gauge Anderson 1-for-2, Mitchell Ford 1-2

RS: Jaylen Smith, Walker Whaley

BB: Smith 2

RBI: Brashear, Anderson

WP: Dustin Brashear (7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 4K, 3BB)

LP: Tucker Duke