MA finishes second in state
Coach Bart Jenkins, with a second-place trophy sitting nearby on the grass, told his Patriots to focus on one thing and one thing only.
“You are a champion,” he said. “Live the rest of your life knowing you played your hardest.”
Marshall Academy’s bid for the school’s first state championship ever in baseball came up short. The Pats dropped two games last week to Centreville Academy in the title series and ended their season at 19-17, the bulk of those losses coming against large public schools.
“It’s real simple,” said Jenkins, with his team circled around him after the game two loss at home. “Coming into the year, everybody from the outside never expected us to be here. They said we couldn’t pitch well enough. They said we couldn’t hit well enough. Nobody thought we were team-oriented.
“But we battled, and we did it against the toughest schedule on the face of the planet.
“I love you and I’m proud of you.”
A win slipped from MA’s grasp in game one on the road Tuesday, May 8. They fell 5-4 in eight innings.
The game was knotted at 3 at the end of regular play – seven innings.
MA went up 4-3 in the top of the eighth.
Then in the bottom, the Pats had recorded two outs with no Tigers on base. But Centreville rallied – getting runners on second and third, followed by a game-winning hit from the bat of Chance Humphreys.
Jenkins said the loss was difficult but even more so, the way his team lost.
“We played with maximum effort – as hard as we could play,” he said.
“Then it was hard to repeat that intensity against a very good baseball team in a three-day span (on Friday at home).
“No doubt about it, if we could have won game one, it would have been huge.”
The Patriots got eight hits off LSU signee Hunter Devall. But the lefty also had 16 strikeouts.
He left after seven innings. Cliff Hurst pitched the eighth for the Tigers and got the win. He gave up one hit.
Aaron McAlexander took the loss for Marshall. The southpaw struck out eight, walked three and gave up eight hits in eight innings of work.
Top hitters for MA were Elgin Lafaver and Tyler Cook, each with a double and a single. Evan Hickman added two singles. McAlexander had a double, while Vince Hoyt and Dakota Dailey each had a single.
The Patriots could muster just two hits off Hurst and dropped a 4-0 decision in Holly Springs Friday.
Hurst carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth, when MA’s Cook singled. McAlexander picked up a hit in the bottom of the sixth.
Centreville grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and added another run in the third on Hurst’s solo home run.
MA had one base-runner in the first three innings – that one coming on a walk.
Cook, the Patriots’ catcher, gunned down two Tigers trying to steal in the top of the fourth.
Centreville padded its lead in the fifth with two more runs.
The Pats had one base-runner in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but none in the bottom of the seventh.
The Tigers, who claimed back-to-back Class AA state championships, finished with a 27-5 record.
Hurst struck out six and walked one.
Hickman took the loss for Marshall. He struck out four, walked six and gave up eight hits. The Patriots committed four errors to Centreville’s one.
Cole Davis went to the mound with one out in the top of the seventh. He struck out one and forced a pop-up.
“We played as hard as we could play,” Coach Jenkins said. “I can sleep easy knowing that, and I hope the kids can to.”
After the game Friday evening, Coach Jenkins fought back the tears as he talked about his seniors – Cook, Hickman, Lafever, Davis, Jacob McMinn, Andy Burleson and Kevin Fitzpatrick.
“You don’t know how special you are,” he said. “I’m so proud of what you have achieved at Marshall Academy.”
He also thanked everyone for their support of the Patriots throughout this season. The crowd on the MA campus for Friday’s game may have been the largest ever there for a baseball game.
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