All Stars win, earn berth in World Series!
The Marshall County 15 year-old all-stars continued its postseason tear on Sunday with a 16-3 victory over Lebanon in the title game of the East Tennessee State Tournament and in turn afforded itself the unique opportunity to become the first boys’ team from Marshall County to play in a Babe Ruth World Series.
The only other Marshall County team to make a World Series appearance was the Danny Hollingsworth coached 12U girls’ squad that finished in third place at Alachua, Fla. in 2012.
The drama was scarce on Sunday at the Jonathon D. Hollingsworth Memorial Field in Lewisburg as Marshall County jumped out to an 8-0 first inning lead and made history with an easy 16-3 win to win the state title and advance to the Southeast Regional Tournament in Greenville, NC next week.
The World Series is in Lawrenceburg on August 10 and Marshall County was awarded an automatic berth with its victory over Lebanon in the East Tennessee State Tournament.
"This is great for the players," Marshall County coach Mike Mills stated. "I don't know how many of these players have been part of a state championship team, but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people."
"For the parents it's a great thing having helped in your kid's success," Mills added. "And for me, these (games) don't get bad. They are all good."
Marshall County dominated the two game tournament with 30 total hits and zero errors, while outscoring the opposition 25-4 behind the sizzling hot bats of Preston Shelton (seven hits), Spence Oliver (six hits), and Walker Whaley (five hits, six RBIs).
Whaley, Matthew McCormick, Colton Barber, and Sunday's starter Austin Grubbs joined together for a nearly untouchable pitching combination by giving up a meager 11 hits and four runs in 12 total innings of work.
Sunday night, Grubbs put together three innings of near perfect pitching with eight first strike pitches, four strikeouts for a 1.67 WHIP before Lebanon finally tacked on three runs at the start of the fourth inning.
Colton Barber promptly took the mound and struck out three Lebanon batters over the final two frames to preserve the win.
Shelton led the squad with four hits, Oliver added three and Whaley added two hits and three RBIs for a game-high three quality at-bats.
Zach Graves tied Whaley with a game-high three RBIs and Barber chipped in two RBIs in the fifth inning.
"The biggest thing tonight was that we were in a 9-1 win yesterday, but we didn't come out to play," Mills said. "We didn't play that well. Today we came out and everybody was sharp. Defense, offense, pitching, everything. We did it."
Any Lebanon hopes of a Marshall County let down were squashed immediately as Grubbs sat down the visitor in order before hitting through the lineup and delivering the knockout blow early with RBIs from Graves, Whaley, Shelton, and Oliver for the 8-0 lead after just one inning.
"We had a little talk about running out to a lead to start with and then just kind of coasted from there," Mills offered. "We just decided to put the runs up and keep the pressure on (Lebanon) the whole way."
"We really liked to finish the game in five innings, which we did," Mills continued. "That got us out of here and that's what we wanted."
The Marshall County slug fest continued in the third inning as Blake Aldridge started off with a single into center before Jake Singleton laid a picture perfect bunt down the third base line while a subsequent bad throw to first allowed Aldridge to advance to third before taking home and the 9-0 lead on an overthrow to third base.
Shelton kept the drive alive with a single into center and Whaley brought home another run with an RBI single past the shortstop for the 10-0 Marshall County lead.
Oliver added a single to load the bases before Grubbs helped out his own cause with a shot into left field, followed by a Graves’ sacrifice fly deep into left to push the lead to 12-0.
McCormick drew a walk on four straight balls to set up a Barber two-run single into left field to extend the Marshall County lead to 14-0 after just three innings.
Lebanon finally showed signs of life in the fourth inning as Jackson Eskew drew a walk from Grubbs before Cooper Hicks sent a shot to the left center fence for a double and the first run of the game for the visitors from Wilson County.
After a Jacob Hood single forced a pitching change, Barber struck out Connor Smiley and got the second out of the inning on a Christian Mansfield pop foul to first base, but a quick thinking Hicks tagged up at third base and crossed an uncovered home plate for the second run of the inning to make it 14-2.
Cade Holcombe brought home the final Lebanon run of the contest with a single into left field and Barber got Spencer Sorse swinging to end the inning.
Marshall County continued to flex its offensive muscle to start the fourth as Shelton, Whaley, and Oliver all produced singles to load the bases with no outs in the thick of the order.
After a Grubbs strikeout, Shelton advanced home on a wild pitch before Graves added his game high third RBI of the game with a ground out to shortstop for a 16-3 Marshall County lead.
The home team was unable to further capitalize on the multiple base runners but Lebanon came up empty once again in the top of the fifth inning and Marshall County advanced to the Southeast Regional Tournament and the World Series with the convincing 16-3 win.
The all-stars will be hosting fund raising events this week with a trip to WJJM on Thursday at 5 p.m. and the squad will be washing cars at NAPA and AutoZone on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
There will also be a meet and greet at the ballpark Saturday night with steak sandwiches and fries for sale as part of a fundraiser for the team’s trip to Greenville and Lawrenceburg.
Lebanon 000 30X X-3 4 5
Marshall County 806 2XX X-16 15 0
Lebanon: Cooper Hicks 1-for-2, Jack Dodson 1-for-2, Connor Smiley 1-for-2, Cade Holcombe 1-for-2
BB: Jackson Eskew, Jacob Hood
RS: Eskew, Hicks, Dodson
RBI: Hicks, Cade Holcombe, Christian Mansfield
SB: Dodson, Eskew, Holcombe
E: Bryson Blackburn, Dodson, Connor Smiley 2, Spencer Sorce
DP: Dodson, Smiley
LP: Jacob Hood
Marshall County: Preston Shelton 4-for-4, Spence Oliver 3-for-4, Walker Whaley 2-for-3, Blake Aldridge 2-for-2, Jake Singleton 1-for-2, Colton Barber 1-for-3, Zack Graves 1-for-4, Austin Grubbs 1-for-3
BB: Whaley, Oliver, Grubbs, Matthew McCormick, Aldridge
RS: Shelton 3, Whaley 3, Oliver 2, Grubbs 2, Aldridge 2, Singleton 2, Graves, Barber
RBI: Graves 3, Whaley 3, Barber 2, McCormick, Grubbs
ROE: Singleton, Grubbs, Barber, Whaley
SB: Aldridge, Grubbs, Whaley
DP: McCormick, Oliver, Whaley
WP: Austin Grubbs (3IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 4K, 2BB), Barber (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB)