Meigs County put plenty of runners on during the Region 3-AA baseball championship game Wednesday night at Signal Mountain, but the host Eagles kept most of them from crossing the plate.
Signal Mountain pitchers issued seven walks and hit two more batters, but they also stranded 11 Meigs County runners to secure a 5-3 win and the title.
"They're scrappy," Signal Mountain coach Josh Gandy said of the Tigers. "They came to scrap, and they made us throw a lot of pitches under stress. That can wear you down as a pitcher, and they did it the entire game, but my kids handled it. I think that comes from playing a lot of good competition throughout the season."
The Tigers (22-8) caused trouble from the start as their first two batters walked. Hunter Burke's sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out, but Signal Mountain starter Collin Farr worked out of the jam with a popup and a grounder to third.
Farr's teammates immediately gave him a boost in the bottom half, scoring three runs. Scott Payne led off with a single and scored on Drew Lowery's triple into the gap in left-center field. Farr reached on an error, which brought home Lowery, then scored on another miscue.
Aaron Swafford sparked Meigs with a leadoff triple in the second, and the visitors got all three runs back in the inning. Will Meadows picked up an RBI with a groundout to clear the bases.
The Tigers filled them back up quickly with two walks, two singles and a batter hit by pitch. Brantley Baker smacked one of the singles, and Caleb Hyde was hit with the bases loaded to make it 3-3, but Meigs left the bags full.
"That was a tough one," Meigs coach Tyler Roberts said. "We didn't capitalize. I think at last count, we left 10 runners on base, and you're not going to beat good teams leaving 10 on base. We had a couple of miscues, but looking back, I don't think those cost us as much as leaving all those runners on.
"I think our pitcher threw well enough to win. We have to be mature and move on from this one."
The Tigers went quietly in the third inning, and the Eagles (21-14) went ahead on Carter Cannon's single. Meigs stranded another pair of runners in the fourth, and Signal Mountain's Tucker Smith saved the day the following inning.
Meigs put the first two batters on base before Smith was called on in relief. He induced a pop-up for the first out, but a balk moved the runners to second and third. Smith was able to bear down and strike out the next two hitters.
"Tucker changed the momentum of the game," Gandy said. "We were able to battle through some innings, and defensively, I think there was only one play we didn't make the whole game."
Signal Mountain got another run in the fifth without a hit to give Lowery a little extra cushion as he came in to pitch the last two innings. Two Tigers reached base in the sixth, but Lowery finished strong by striking out the side in order to end the game.
Signal Mountain will host Grundy County on Friday with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
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