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Clay County 13's march on to semifinals in state tourney

Thursday, July 21, 2011

(Photo)
Clay County centerfielder Ben Girton makes a valiant effort, diving for a short flyball against Riley. Girton scored twice and stole a base in the victory. [Order this photo]
By CAREY FOX

Times Sports Editor

The Clay County 13-year-old all stars were very opportunistic against Riley in the Babe Ruth State Tourney quarterfinals on Wednesday evening.

(Photo)
Clay County's Tucker Stewart fires a pitch to the plate during his start against Riley. [Order this photo]
The Clay County squad fell behind 3-0 over the first two-and-a-half innings, but rallied strong thanks to some Riley miscues to score in the final four innings to pick up a 10-5 win. The victory advances Clay County to the semifinals against Valle Field, which rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Batesville, 11-10.

Riley was able to take the early lead as Clay County starting pitcher, Tucker Stewart, struggled some with his control, with three walks during his three innings of work. However, he was able to strand the bases loaded in the first inning by striking out Aric Wisbey to hold Riley to a single run. The second frame was more of the same as Riley had the bases loaded with one out and nearly got out of danger unscathed, but an errant pickoff throw to first allowed a run to score. Clay County got out of the inning on a nice sliding grab by Ben Girton in centerfield that resulted in a double play.

Clay County got on the board in the bottom of the third inning as Seth Barrett and Girton singled before Hunter Wolfe drilled a double to plate both runs. Brayden White followed with another double to score Wolfe to tie the game.

From that point on, momentum was solidly in Clay County's favor as Nate Thomas took the mound in the fourth and set Riley down without any more damage.

Clay County came back in its half of the fourth to plate two more runs as Riley committed a pair of miscues, one on a routine grounder to shortstop and another on a throw from third that allowed two runs to score to give the home team a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

In the fifth inning, Clay County tallied three more runs as Thomas walked with one out, moved to second on a passed ball and later scored on a wild pitch by Grant Ellis. Stewart was hit-by-pitch to reach base and stole second before Barrett reached on an infield single and the throw was wild. Girton came up next and reached base on a throwing error that brought both Barrett and Stewart home for an 8-3 Clay County lead.

Riley was able to scratch out a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning, but Clay County returned the favor with Dalton Shaw driving in Blake Mershon, who had drawn a walk. Tanner Knust then hit a looping single to leftfield to bring home pinchrunner, Mitchell Howald to return the five-run lead at 10-5.

Thomas would allow Riley to gain a pair of base hits in the top of the seventh, but shut the door with a strikeout of Trevor Singer and coaxed a flyball from Chase Dinkel to end the game.

Clay County plays in the semifinal round on Friday evening at 5 p.m.

Babe Ruth 13-year-old state tourney

At Northview High School

Quarterfinals

Riley1110020-58x
Clay County003232x-1013x

2B -- CC (Wolfe, White), Riley (None).

WP -- Thomas. LP -- Wilson.