Trailing 5-3 after two innings, the Tullahoma 14U Babe Ruth Team battled back, topping Marshall County 7-5 in Lewisburg on Monday night to secure the local league’s first state title since 2008.
Tullahoma will now head to the Southeast Regional, scheduled to get underway on July 25 in Ocala, Florida. As of press time, a bracket for that tournament was unavailable.
Tullahoma opened the state tournament with a 6-0 loss to Lawrence County on Saturday, but was able to keep its state title dreams alive following with a dominating 20-3 victory over Mt. Juliet on the same day.
The locals followed with a 4-2 revenge win over Lawrence County on Sunday and then topped Marshall County 16-2, setting up Monday night’s winner-take-all matchup.
Zack Milan picked up the win for Tullahoma after getting the start on the hill. While he secured the win, Milan got himself into early trouble, giving up four walks as Marshall County plated five runs, taking a 5-3 lead after two innings.
However, Tullahoma’s offense helped out the starting pitcher, putting up three runs in the top of the fourth to grab a 6-3 edge. Donavin Pearson led off the inning with a base hit and was able to take second base on an error on a throw-down to first base. Caleb Holloway followed with a single up the middle of the field, putting runners on the corners.
Holloway was able to swipe second base shortly thereafter to give Tullahoma a pair of runners in scoring position. In the next at-bat, Chad Farler tied the contest at 5 with a line-drive single into right field that plated Pearson and Holloway.
After advancing to third base when Jakob Weeks grounded into a fielder’s choice, Farler scored on a wild pitch that gave Tullahoma a 6-5 edge. Tullahoma would hold on to that lead for the remainder of the contest.
Milan continued to get stronger for his team on the hill, striking out four of the final five batters that he faced. In 3.2 innings, Milan allowed just the five runs while also surrendering five hits and four walks while striking out five batters.
Nolan Blackburn concluded the contest the rest of the way for Tullahoma on the mound, tossing the final 3.1 innings on the night. Blackburn gave up just three hits in his time on the hill, striking out a batter and holding Marshall County scoreless.
With a one-run lead heading into the seventh inning, Tullahoma gave itself a little breathing room with an insurance run in the top of the inning. Milan led off the frame with a base hit into left field and was able to steal both second and third bases. With two outs, Holloway plated Milan with an RBI single into center field, putting Tullahoma in front 7-5.
Blackburn retired Marshall County in order in the bottom of the seventh inning, inducing three-straight ground balls as Tullahoma celebrated its state title victory.
While Marshall County took a 5-3 lead at the end of the second inning, it was Tullahoma who grabbed the early advantage, putting up three runs in the top of the first. Farler reached base on an infield single, before Blackburn reached base on an error and Weeks followed with a single to load the bases.
William Zebick was then hit by the pitch, allowing Farler to score the first run of the contest. Kyler Parker followed by reaching on an error that plated Blackburn. Weeks reached home in the next at-bat on a passed ball that put Tullahoma in front 3-0.
However, Marshall County answered to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, before adding two more runs in the second, taking its 5-3 lead before Tullahoma battled back for the victory.
Zach Birdsong may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.