Bombers' comeback earns shot at state title
It's rivalry that goes back before the current coaches were even born. It's Marshall County versus Giles County and you can throw out all the stats and insert all the intangibles when these two squads meet.
On Saturday at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Field in Lewisburg, the Marshall County and Giles County 13-15 year-old all-stars met in the second round of the Babe Ruth State Tournament and the game was excellently played with the Bombers coming away with a 4-3 comeback win, putting them one win away from a state title.
"Man that was a tight one," Marshall County manager Greg Bradford said. "It's always like that, Marshall County and Giles County is always tight, just like in the district when we won 2-1."
In a classic pitcher's duel, Ethan Mealer started on the mound for Marshall County and Andrew Morgan took the ball for Pulaski.
Both hurlers turned in sparkling performances as Mealer picked up the win, tossing 6 2/3 innings before Dustin Brashear came on and got the final out to earn a save.
"Ethan pitched a great game," Bradford said. "Five hits in 6 2/3 innings was really good and I think he should have given up just one or two runs at the most."
Mealer gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, struck out seven and issued five free passes to Giles County, while Morgan went 5 1/3 innings, giving eight hits, three earned runs, struck out two, walked two and hit one Marshall County batter.
"I'm just super proud of the guys the way they fought back and won it," Bradford said. "You can never count these kids out and now we get to play to defend that state title and win and get ready for the southeast region."
Both starting pitchers made it through the first three innings without allowing a run, but in the top of the fourth inning Giles County scored all three of its runs.
Seth Waters got things going for Pulaski as he led off with a base hit to center field and promptly stole second base.
Dylan Carmen knocked in Waters with an RBI single and went to second on the throw home.
Bryce Hagan reached on a Marshall County error before both runners moved up on a double steal.
Peoples followed with a squeeze bunt RBI and the third run came across on a passed ball.
After Morgan got a strikeout to start the bottom of the inning, lightning struck in the near distance and the rains came shortly afterwards, delaying the contest for an hour.
After the delay, Morgan retired the next two Marshall County batters to end the fourth inning and Mealer did not allow a run in the top of the fifth.
The Bombers finally got a touch of luck when Hunter Haurez blooped a single that dropped in left field to leadoff the frame and Dylan Pendley followed with a walk.
After a pop-up out on an attempted sacrifice bunt, Grayson Whaley delivered a base hit to left field.
Haurez scooted home with the Bombers' first run via a wild pitch and Crowell made it 2-0 with a solid base hit to center field.
Gauge Anderson stepped in the batter's box and went deep into the count before fighting off a pitch for an infield single that tied the game at 3-3.
"They started being patient and it paid off," Bradford said. "I think that delay gave them a little time to realize they had to get back to hitting the ball."
Morgan got out of the jam on a 4-6-3 double play, but Mealer was strong in the top of sixth, holding the visitors scoreless once again.
Smith led off the bottom of the frame with a single, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch with one out.
Brashear delivered in the clutch, banging a base to left field that put Marshall County in front 4-3.
Mealer whiffed the first two Giles County batters in the top of the seventh inning before issuing a walk to Lucas Johnson.
Bradford elected to remove Mealer and bring Brashear to the mound and it was the right move as a fly ball to Walker Whaley in right field ended the game.
"We always have a lot of confidence in him (Brashear) to come in any time we need him to shut them down," Bradford said. "I think it was the right call, Ethan pitched a great game, but he was getting tired and you have to do whatever it takes to win one game at a time."
Giles County 000 300 0-3 5 0
Marshall County 000 031 X-4 8 1
Giles County: Skylar Tarpley 0-for-4, Dallon Harris 0-for-4, Lucas Johnson 0-for-3, Seth Waters 1-for-3, Dylan Carmen 2-for-3, Bryce Hagan 0-for-3, Ben Peoples 1-for-1, Tyler Garrett 1-for-2, Andrew Morgan 0-for-3, Khalil Givens 0-for-1
RS: Waters, Carmen, Hagan
BB: Peoples 2, Waters, Garrett, Johnson
RBI: Carmen, Peoples, Garrett
SB: Waters, Hagan, Peoples
Marshall County: Jaylen Smith 1-for-3, Ethan Mealer 1-for-3, Dustin Brashear 1-for-3, Hunter Haurez 1-for-2, Dylan Pendley 0-for-1, Walker Whaley 0-for-2, Grayson Whaley 1-for-3, Caleb Crowell 2-for-2, Gauge Anderson 1-for-2, Mitchell Ford 0-for-1
RS: Smith, Haurez, Pendley, Grayson Whaley
BB: Pendley 2
RBI: Brashear, Crowell, Anderson
WP: Ethan Mealer (6.2IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 5BB, 8K)
Save: Dustin Brashear (.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER. 0BB, 1K)
LP: Andrew Morgan (5.2IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K), Ben Peoples (.1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, BB, 2K)