By Ron Johnston
The Marietta Times
BEVERLY – A mound miscue proved to be the difference.
Marietta High’s Brandon Schamp scored on Fort Frye pitcher Tyler Bradford’s balk in the sixth inning as the Tigers edged the host Cadets, 5-4, to claim the inaugural Washington County Baseball Tournament Championship on Monday.
“We’re just proud to be the first champions of the Washington County Tournament,” said MHS skipper Jim Thrash, whose Tigers improved their record to 3-0. “That’s something we think and hope is going to become a tradition to open the season for everybody in the county. And we appreciate all the support from all the people who came out and watched the games.”
The championship game was orginally scheduled for Legion Field but was moved to Fort Frye’s diamond due to wet grounds. The contest also went just six innings because of darkness.
The left-handed-throwing Schamp not only scored the winning run but was also the winning hurler in relief of starter Isaac Danford. Schamp threw 2-2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“Brandon did a fabulous job,” Thrash said.
Danford stroked two singles, and drove in one run for the orange and black winners. Trent Dawson had two RBIs, while Danny Hiser had one. Turner Hill had a triple, and scored twice
“I like what I’m seeing so far,” Thrash said. “As long as we maintain our confidence…we didn’t play especially well early in the game. We made a lot of mistakes in the field and on the bases. We made our fair share of mental mistakes and physical errors. But we had some good at-bats.”
Carter Lang led the Fort (2-1) with two singles. Logan Isner and Isaac Klinger each had an RBI. With the loss, Cadets boss Sonny Bidwell still remains one career baseball win shy of 300.
“We didn’t help ourselves out,” said Bidwell, whose Cadets committed three errors. “We obviously had some errors that advanced runners. It was not a recipe for a good night.”
MHS staked itself to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first. Leading off, Hill was hit by a Luke Nelson delivery. The Tiger center fielder than swiped second and came around to score on Danford’s single.
Fort Frye got that one and another back in the bottom half of the frame without the benefit of a hit. With one out, Tate Engle was safe on an error, and Derek Layton followed with a walk. Engle later scored on a Danford wild pitch, and Layton legged it home on Isner’s sacrifice fly to right.
Marietta came back a tied the score at 2-all in the third Hill tripled to center and scored on Hiser’s single up the middle.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fort regained the lead, 4-2, when Bradford scored on an error, and Lang legged it home on Kinger’s groundout to second.
MHS tied it a second time (4-4) in the top of the fifth on Dawson’s two-run single, plating Brandon Neville and Danford.
In the pivotal top of the sixth, Schamp was hit by a Bradford pitch to lead off the frame. He was then sacrificed bunted to second by Hill. After Hiser advanced Schamp to third on a groundout, Neville walked, putting Tigers at the corners with two outs. Neville then made a move towards second, trying to draw a throw from Bradford.
It was this time that Bradford balked, and both Tigers moved up a base with Schamp scoring the go-ahead run.
“We didn’t execute too many things well baserunning-wise in the game,” Thrash said. “But that last play was executed well. That was the intention of the play.
“The runner had an extra-big lead and an early break, and we just tried to get the pitcher to make a commitment.”
In the last of the sixth, Fort also had runners at the corners with two outs, thanks to singles by Lang and Klinger. But Schamp got Engle to pop out to short to end the game.
“We battled and it was a great experience,” Bidwell said. “Marietta has a fine team. We were right there.”
Said Thrash, “This was the second game in a row where we had the lead, gave it up, fought back, and we found a way to get the lead there at the end. I mean, it’s a good characteristic of our team.
“Fort Frye’s going to have a good season, and they showed an ability to come back in that game as well. They have a tough lineup.”
Marietta is scheduled to play at Logan today.