Birchfield's best in tourney after eeking past Simmons'

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   After a season-long, flip-flop battle, Birchfield's Construction came away with a 6-5 victory over Simmons' Roofing & Vinyl in the championship game of the Carter County Major League tournament on Wednesday night.
   Both teams have enjoyed their share of success on the year, but in the last two meetings it was Birchfield's Construction which had the final celebration.
   "Actually, both teams have been real competitive, and it's been real tight all year -- back and forth," said Birchfield's Construction coach Dan Parke. "We were just able to come out on top toward the end."
   Simmons' started the contest by getting out front early on, when walks scored Damon Lewis and Ricky Berry.
   Another run was added in the top of the second with a hit up the middle by Berry and error in the outfield bringing home Lewis.
   In the bottom of the frame, Birchfield's came back with a run after a walk to Thomas Blevins scored Ryan Mick.
   The defense of Birchfield's held in the third frame after a hit to center field by Lewis was caught by Chris Russell and throw to Greg Parke at second base completing a double play.
   Birchfield's tied the contest in the bottom of the third, as a line drive to center field from Daniel Fleenor scored Jimmy Lee Ritchie, and a walk brought in Parke, who delivered his patented cart-wheel across home plate.
   "We didn't hit the ball as well as what we have all year, but we hit it enough to get the job done," said Birchfield's Construction coach Dan Parke. "We made a few mistakes at the beginning with our base running, but I knew they'd hang tough and come back around."
   Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth inning, which forced the game to be decided in the fifth frame.
   "We were short a player tonight, and one of our best players wasn't here, but the boys played hard to take it an extra inning with eight against nine," said Simmons' Roofing & Vinyl coach Dale Colbaugh.
   A two-run homer from Landon Thomas to right-center field drove in James Coffey to give Simmons' a two-run lead.
   "The hit from Landon Thomas was sweet. He had been struggling, but we could have used a couple of more hits," said Colbaugh. "Our defense played well though, and I'm proud of that."
   After two outs with no runs coming in, it appeared that Birchfield's season was going to end on a sour note, but like the saying goes, "it's not over till it's over."
   Josh Wills was the first runner to get on base for Birchfield's, with a bunt down the third-base line.
   A passed ball to Parke created a throw to first base, which enabled Wills to come home.
   Two intentional walks to Fleenor and Tyler Carr loaded the base for Birchfield's, as Simmons' was still looking for their third out.
   The out never came as walks to Ryan Mick and Russell brought in Ritchie and Fleenor for the game-winning run.
   "We had two outs with two runs, and then our pitcher got a little wild, and James is our catcher and we had to use him at pitcher tonight," said Colbaugh. "We didn't have anybody to throw strikes at the end, but it was a good ball game, and with eight ball players we did well."