Marshall County defends state title, advances to SE Region
It took all day and much of the night for the Marshall County all-stars to complete a back-to-back sweep of the 13-15 year-old Babe Ruth League state championships via an 8-0 win over Lebanon in the title game Sunday.
The title tilt started two hours late because of rain and lightning delays and another short delay because of a lighting outage when the local sports editor (Me) accidently hit the switch in the Press Box.
“They showed up early, got a little batting practice and they were real positive and upbeat the whole time,” Marshall County manager Mike Mills said. “When we hit that field it just had that feel about it. For lack of a better word, there was blood in the water and the sharks were circling.”
Marshall County won all three games they played as the host team at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Memorial Field in Lewisburg over the weekend in a dominating performance.
The pitching staff allowed just one run in the three games, while striking out 43 and giving up just seven hits the entire tournament.
East Nashville scored a run in the second inning of game one before the pitching staff tossed 19 scoreless innings in a row to propel the all-stars to the Southeast Region Tournament at Longwood, Florida beginning on July 25.
“We are going to have a short turnaround because we have to check in down there on the 24th which is a Tuesday, so we have to be underway on Monday,” Mills said. “Longwood, Florida is about an 11 and a half hour drive so we will have to be doing some fundraising and some hopping.”
It will be the third consecutive southeast region tournament appearance for Marshall County, who have come close to winning on several occasions.
“We have got the pitching and we have to get our hitting going and keep it going because we have those big innings and we kind of fade a little, so we have to get it all going,” Mills said. “We have went to some and come back in second and come back with third and have been in the mix the whole time, we just haven’t put it all together,” Mills said. “I know coach (Danny) Hollingsworth came one out away one year, so it is doable.”
“We have hurt some feelings in some of these southeast tournaments, we have put out some of the giants and I think this team has a shot.”
Joseph Moore’s two-out single in the top of the second inning was the only blemish off Marshall County starting pitcher Zack Graves, who tossed six innings of one-hit ball before Logan McKnight came on in the top of the seventh to close it out.
“Zack did a fantastic job, he went six innings and had 85 pitches going into the sixth inning and managed to finish that inning, so it was just an awesome job,” Mills said. “Then we brought Logan McKnight in and once again he came in and shut the door.”
Graves struck out 13 Lebanon hitters and walked three in the game.
“Our pitching with Graves, McKnight, (Carson) Cheek, (Logan) Courtemanche, and (Ethan) Hollis all did a fantastic job the whole tournament,” Mills said. “We gave up one run in the entire state tournament and that is pretty strong. We just shut them down.”
Marshall County got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the first inning as they scored five runs without a hit as Lebanon’s starting pitcher Denton Dodson walked four batters and uncorked three wild pitches that scored the first three runs.
A fielding error and an RBI fielder’s choice by Conner McVey made it 5-0.
Graves cruised to the fourth inning where Marshall County tacked on three more runs on a two-run double by Hollis and an RBI single by J.W. Beasley.
Lebanon managed to get two on with no outs in the top of the fifth inning via a Marshall County error followed by a base on balls, but Graves slammed the door with three consecutive strikeouts.
Graves set down Lebanon 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth inning before leaving the game due to the pitch count.
McKnight came to the hill in the top of the seventh and struck out the first batter and the second, but an error on the second whiff allowed Moore to reach first base.
Moore stole second and McKnight struck the next better before the game ended when Marshall County catcher Bryson Whaley gunned down Moore trying to steal third base.
Marshall County Babe Ruth League president Ken Demastus did a fantastic job again this year with the league as well as his wife Jennifer in her many roles, score board operator Michelle Grooms, and a special shout out to field manager Steve Reese, who has the grounds looking better than it has in a while.
Lebanon 000 000 0-0 1 4
Marshall County 500 300 X-8 3 2
Lebanon: Joseph Moore 1-for-3.
BB: Denton Dodson, Bryson Thurman, Bryson Underwood.
ROE: Dillion Johnson, Dodson.
HBP: Caleb Dixon.
SB: Moore, Emillio Jimenez, Thurman, Underwood, Dodson.
CS: Moore, Dodson.
Team LOB: 6
E: Hayden Rigsby 2, Jimenez, Dalton Bowes.
LP: Denton Dodson.
Marshall County: Logan McKnight 1-for-2, Zack Graves 1-for-2, Ethan Hollis 1-for-3.
RS: J.W. Beasley, McKnight, Logan Courtemanche, Javarria Rucker, Conner McVey, Luke Terry, Hollis, Brady Calahan.
BB: Courtemanche 2, Beasley, McKnight, Graves.
2B: Hollis, Graves.
RBI: Hollis 2, McVey, Rucker.
ROE: Terry, McVey, Rucker, Beasley.
CS: Calahan, McKnight.
Team LOB: 2
E: Hollis 2.
WP: Zack Graves (6IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 13K, 3BB).
Save: Logan McKnight (1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 3K, 0BB).