Tigers lose, but Ayden wins
With the district season over and fourth place locked up, the MCHS Tigers hosted Lewis County (13-11) on Tuesday night, the first of six non-conference games in a row to end the regular season.
But before competition started the Tigers held a special event, allowing Ayden Orr, a local child recently diagnosed with a unique form of epilepsy, throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Joe George Field.
When the game started, the Panthers jumped out fast and often on the Tigers (12-10), taking an 11-1 lead into the fifth before the Tigers added eight runs in the final two innings to turn a blowout into a close 13-9 setback.
Hunter Haurez started on the mound for the Tigers and looked great early in the contest as the Marshall County hurler struck out the number two and three hitters looking on a nasty curve ball, before forcing the cleanup hitter to ground out to Austin Wood at shortstop to end the inning with one Panther runner in scoring position.
The second inning started the same way for Haurez as Will Owens lined out to Brayden Gentry at third base and striking out Cade Brewer before running into control troubles.
Haurez walked Dakota Crowell and Austin Willis before Mikey Ortiz singled into right to load the bases.
Mason Drew stepped up and launched a triple over the right fielder's head, allowing three runs to score before Trey Holbrook lined out to third to end the threat.
The Tigers managed to claim back a run in the bottom of the second as Nathan Derryberry led the inning off with a triple to the center field fence, before Gentry brought the first baseman in with a sacrifice fly to center.
Panther pitcher Dakota Crowell settled down and forced a Jacob Autry fly out to right field before Preston Shelton struck out to end the inning.
Haurez added two more strikeouts in the third inning, but the Tigers were not able to provide run support in the bottom half of the inning before the Panthers blew the game wide open in the fourth.
Ortiz started off the Panther scoring burst with an RBI triple to the center field fence followed by another Drew scoring shot to left center for a 5-1 lead.
Dresden Barnes added to the total with double to the left field fence to bring home two more runs before Haurez was replaced by Shelton.
The Panthers added two more unearned runs on the freshman pitcher and scored six runs on five hits in the inning to take a 9-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Gentry hit a shot to left center that bounced over the fence for the ground rule double, but once again the Tigers were not able to bring home the runner and went into the fifth down by eight runs.
Lewis County tacked on two more runs in the fifth on two Tiger errors before Brent McGehee brought home Shelton on a single to left and Thomas Hawkins sent Wood home on a single to left to make it 11-3.
The Panthers tacked on two additional runs in the seventh, but the Tiger bats finally came alive to score six runs in the final inning.
The rally was too little too late and the Tigers lost just their seventh game in nine tries.
Marshall County starts a two-game series against 3A Coffee County on Thursday night before a home and away series with another 3A club, Shelbyville Central to end the regular season next week.