T&C trips Citizens for title

By Marvin Birchfield

   The final game of the Carter County American Little League Tournament was held on Tuesday night, and T&C Lawn Care made good on its championship potential by defeating Citizens Bank by a final of 5-2 at Jim Ensor Field.
   "It's been a heck of a year for us, and I think we deserved it," said T&C coach Bobby Collins after his second-seeded team captured the tourney title. "We worked harder than anybody down here this year."
   T&C finished in second place in the regular-season standings, but ended up with the best record overall at 24-2.
   "We finished second in the season, but first in the tournament with the best record on the season, and this is the best team I have ever coached," said Collins.
   It was a slow start for both teams in the first inning, as neither was able to get a hit from the four batters faced.
   In the second frame, Citizens Bank collected its only hit of the game as Jake Hodge ripped a shot up the middle.
   Hodge came around to score after being chased in a rundown between third and home, where he kept Josh Pierce and Jeff Peters from making the tag.
   Another run for Citizens scored when a fielding error by the third-baseman allowed Jacob Taylor to come home.
   "We played a good team today and they deserved to win, but nobody expected us to be here and we were," said Citizens Bank coach Delany Scalf.
   Citizens enjoyed a 2-0 lead after the second frame, but it didn't last long as the third inning approached.
   Jeremy Hall was on the mound for Citizens, and he retired the first two batters in the bottom of the third with strikeouts.
   "We threw our best pitcher at them, but they stood in there and hit it. Those kids have a lot of heart," said Scalf.
   Then T&C came back to sock four consecutive hits to turn the tide and momentum of the ballgame.
   "We had the right boys up at the right time, and our little guys were able to come through for us also," said Collins.
   Corey Miller was the first one to get a hit, as he knocked a ground single toward shortstop.
   He was followed by Bryant Collins, who busted a hit up the middle to score Miller.
   Jeff Peters was next with a shot to the first baseman, which looked like would make the final out, but Peters turned on the speed to make it across the bag before Adam Colbaugh could get there.
   The hit scored Collins to make it a tied contest, with Jarred Irick coming to bat.
   Irick crushed a double to right center-field to drive home Peters and give T&C a one-run lead after three.
   T&C was knocking on the door once again in the bottom of the fourth, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
   But Hall did a superb job of striking out the next three batters to bail Citizens out of the inning and not allow any run to cross the plate.
   "I'm proud of my team," Scalf said. "They never gave up, and we will come back and get um' next year."
   T&C added to its lead in the fifth frame, when Irick smacked a triple that curved and bounced right inside the right-field baseline.
   The hit drove in two runs with Collins and Peters making their way across the plate.
   Irick finished the night by going two for three with three runs batted in.
   Not only was Irick a force at the plate but also at the mound, as he denied the last seven batters faced with strikeouts.
   Irick recorded the win, allowing just one hit, striking out 12 and walking three.
   "I would like to congratulate Citizens Bank and Expert Express on their regular-season championship," Collins said. "We've had a great group of kids and parents for we've really enjoyed it."