Bombers' run comes to end
The Marshall County Bombers' two-year run for a Babe Ruth Southeast Region title ended on Saturday at Union City when the 15U all-stars lost to the eventual champions Tallahassee, Florida 6-0 in the semifinals.
"These kids here have a whole lot of heart, they never gave up and quit," Marshall County manager Damon Mealer said. "This is a great achievement for these young men from a small league in Lewisburg, but that ride is finally over."
Rain washed out the first day of play on Wednesday before the Bombers came up with a gritty 14-11 come from behind win over host Union City in the first of two games for Marshall County on Thursday.
In the nightcap, Winter Park, Florida handed the Bombers a 5-4 loss.
Winter Park scored all five of its runs in the top of the third inning and were cruising along with the shutout until the Bombers scored in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Gauge Anderson.
Marshall County added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on fielder's choice RBI by Grayson Whaley and Zack Graves, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
Dustin Brashear, who had come to the mound in relief of Ethan Mealer in the fourth inning, set down Winter Park 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh as the Bombers looked for their second comeback win.
Leadoff man Jaylen Smith got things going in the bottom of the seventh as he was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a bad throw.
Winter Park relief pitcher Preston Touthman got the first out on a pop-up before Grayson Whaley knocked in Smith with a fielder's choice RBI.
There would be no comeback for the Bombers as a ground ball out to third ended the contest.
"We didn't start so great, but since we lost we have to come back and win tomorrow to get in the final four," Mealer said. "These kids are fighters and they don't quit. Anything is possible and it's far from over, we just have to start in the first inning, not the fifth. Tomorrow is do-or-die."
The Bombers had to win against Greenville, North Carolina on Friday to stay alive and they did in a big way, pounding the East Carolina squad 10-2.
Marshall County banged out 13 hits in the contest, opening the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the first inning after escaping a bases loaded one-out jam in the top of the first.
"That was a key moment," Mealer said. "They had a runner there on first that thought he was smart and after a mound visit, we picked him off and that changed everything as we took control of the baseball game."
Dustin Brashear and Caleb Crowell drove home one run apiece in the frame and Preston Shelton, who pitched the game of his life on the mound for the Bombers drove home another run.
Shelton kept Greenville scoreless in the second and third innings before the Bombers added three more runs in the home half of the third inning.
Crowell and Grayson Whaley had RBI singles in the inning and another run crossed home plate on a Greenville error.
Shelton was magnificent, setting down Greenville 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth and the Bombers gave their young pitcher three more runs in the bottom of the inning as Gauge Anderson drove home two runs and Brashear added a sac fly RBI.
There was no scoring in the fifth inning and Shelton tired in the top of the sixth as Greenville scored a pair of runs, making it 9-2.
An Ethan Mealer RBI double in the bottom of the sixth made it 10-2 and Jaylen Smith, who had come on for Shelton in the sixth, held Greenville scoreless in the seventh inning to end the game.
"These kids fought hard and they left it all on the field today," Mealer said. They put together and played a great baseball game against a good Greenville team that has a lot of great hitters."
With the win over Greenville, Marshall County was one of the four teams out of eight to advance to the semifinals where they would meet Tallahassee, who had dominated its first three opponents by a combined score of 40-4 with all three games ending on run-rule wins.
"If we can come out and hit these line drives and these hard ground balls through the holes, anybody is beatable," Mealer said. "This Tallahassee squad we are getting ready to play has run-ruled everybody, but if we can come out and be patient at the plate, we can drive the baseball on anybody."
Mealer took the hill for Marshall County and Nick Ferrara was the starting pitcher for Tallahassee.
Ferrara set down the Bombers 1-2-3 in the top of the first and Mealer gave up three runs in the home half of the inning, before almost escaping a bases loaded jam.
Two bases on balls by Mealer, a passed ball that allowed a run to score and two shaky fielding plays cost Marshall County dearly.
Ferraro was cruising along with a no-hitter and a three-run lead into the bottom of the third when an RBI triple by Ferrara made it 4-0.
Ferrara set down Marshall County in order in the fourth and in the bottom of the frame, two more runs came home for the Florida squad.
Ferrara took his no-no to the final inning before Brashear drilled a leadoff double to left field, but that would be it for Marshall County as Ferrara slammed the door shut on the Bombers.
"One hit just won't do it," Mealer said. "They had a really good pitcher today that had good velocity and mixed in a really good breaking ball and their defense made three great plays up the middle to throw us out. We just couldn't string anything together."
Tallahassee went on to beat Giles County 6-2 in the championship game to advance to Babe Ruth World Series for a fifth time.
They beat Niles, Michigan in 1984 and garnered a second title in 2009 when they beat Longview, Washington.
Thursday, July 28
Winter Park, Florida 104 000 0-5 9 1
Marshall County 000 011 2-4 4 0
Winter Park: Preston Touthman 3-for-3, Jack Campbell 2-for-3, Phillip Clarke 2-for-4, Wyatt Sutton 1-for-3, Mason Missingham 1-for-3
RS: Touthman 2, Clarke, Willie Santiago, Asher Cosmus
BB: Cosmus 2, Touthman, Santiago, Paten Cutliff
2B: Touthman 2, Sutton
RBI: Campbell 2, Touthman, Sutton
Marshall County: Gauge Anderson 1-for-4, Caleb Crowell 1-for-3, Preston Shelton 1-for-3, Grayson Whaley 1-for-1
RS: Jaylen Smith, Crowell, Shelton, Grayson Whaley
BB: Dustin Brashear, Allante Watts
HBP: Ethan Mealer 2, Smith
Sac Bunt: Grayson Whaley
FC: Grayson Whaley
Sac Fly: Mealer
SB: Smith, Shelton
WP: Jack Campbell (6IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K)
Save: Preston Touthman (1IP, 0H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0K)
LP: Ethan Mealer (3IP, 5H, 5R, 4ER, 5BB, 4K), Dustin Brashear (4IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 4K)
Friday, July 29
Greenville, North Carolina 000 002 0-2 7 3
Marshall County 303 301 x-10 13 1
Greenville: Grant C. Jarmen 3-for-3, Robby Wacker 2-for-2, Jake H. Rodgers 1-for-3, Jordan Atkinson 1-for-2, Lucas Thomas 1-for-2
RS: Wacker, Atkinson
BB: Wacker 2, Thomas
HBP: Clay Stanly
RBI: Ross Johnson
Marshall County: Ethan Mealer 3-for-3, Jaylen Smith 2-for-3, Dustin Brashear 2-for-3, Gauge Anderson 1-for-3, Caleb Crowell 1-for-1, Preston Shelton 1-for-4, Grayson Whaley 1-for-2, Mitchell Ford 1-for-3, Allante Watts 1-for-2
RS: Smith 3, Mealer 2, Brashear 2, Crowell, Shelton, Grayson Whaley, Ford, Watts
2B: Mealer 2, Brashear
RBI: Crowell 2, Anderson, Brashear, Mealer, Shelton, Grayson Whaley
Sac Bunt: Anderson, Crowell
Sac Fly: Brashear
Fielder's Choice RBI: Crowell
BB: Crowell, Grayson Whaley, Watts
HBP: Smith, Mealer
SB: Smith 2, Brashear, Watts
WP: Preston Shelton (5IP, 7H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 1K), Jaylen Smith (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2K)
LP: Noah Stox
Saturday, July 30
Marshall County 000 000 0-0 1 1
Tallahassee, Florida 301 200 x-6 8 2
Marshall County: Dustin Brashear 1-for-3
BB: Grayson Whaley
Sac Bunt: Allante Watts
SB: Jaylen Smith
Tallahassee: Destin Todd 1-for-3, Beau Evans 2-for-3, Brady Blackburn 2-for-4, Victor Castillo 1-for-2, Tyler Borges1-for-3, Mark Thornhill 1-for-3
BB: Todd, Castillo,
3B: Borges, Castillo
RBI: Borges 2, Castillo, Blackburn
ROE: Tyler Gilliland, Todd
HBP: Bryce Palmer
SB: Evans 2, Blackburn, Todd 2
WP: Nick Ferrara (7IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 8K, 1BB)
LP: Ethan Mealer (6IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K), Dustin Brashear (2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K)
Saturday, July 30
SE Region Title Game
Giles County 010 010 0-2 6 6
Tallahassee 010 311 x-6 5 1