The Backup Plan
- Updated: July 2, 2016
Tipton, Lucas gem secures district title for Maryville 10-under All-Stars
Maryville’s Jay Brown makes the tag on McMinn County’s Jayce Falls and gets clear during the Minor League District 6 championship game Friday at Maryville Little League. Photos by Keith Driver. For more photos from the game, please visit our Photo Store.
By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row
Nothing like a catcher who can field his position.
Except maybe a shortstop who’s exactly where he’s supposed to be too!
Chandler Tipton and James Lucas closed the show with a dash of the spectacular as the Maryville Little League 10-under All-Stars rallied to upend McMinn County, 6-3, in the District 6 championship game Friday night at Maryville.
Tucker Swafford came to the plate as McMinn’s last hope with no one on and two out in the sixth. A ground ball back through the right side looked the game’s final out until the throw sailed wide of first baseman Mark Owens’ glove. Swafford made the turn and steamed for second.
Unbeknownst to Swafford, Tipton, the Maryville catcher, was out of his mask and right behind him at the crack of the bat.
“It’s just instinct I’ve done it so much,” Tipton said.
Collecting the wide throw in front of the home dugout, Tipton fired a strike to Lucas, the Maryville shortstop, dutifully covering second on the play. Lucas applied the tag before Swafford could get into his slide.
“I saw the kid run, so I just ran to second,” Lucas said.
Backing up a teammate is central to the club, Maryville coach Mark Owens Sr. said.
“They all know each other and can field the ball really well,” he said. “They know on every play, everybody has got to be going somewhere. There is no standing.”
Tyler Adsit was brilliant for the champs on the mound. Relieving in the fourth, Maryville down, 3-1, with no one out and a runner second, Adsit retired nine of 10 batters faced the rest of the way, seven of them by strikeout.
Of 32 pitches thrown, 28 went for strikes.
The game doesn’t get to Adsit, though, if starter Brock Nuchols doesn’t keep McMinn close through three complete.
Second baseman Jay Brown’s errant throw necessitated the Tipton/Lucas gem to end the game. Three innings earlier, Brown had been the magic man, staying down on a hot smash, rising and delivering a picture-perfect throw to Owens in the third.
McMinn struck first, Josh Rouse driving a one-out double to the left field wall to get aboard in the opening half inning. Silas Ward singled to get the run home two batters later.
Bryce Bohanan walked and later stole home to get Maryville even in its half of the first.
Ward doubled and scored for McMinn in the third, with Brady Mullins doubling home Riley Owen for a 3-1 McMinn lead after three.
“Give them credit. They (McMinn) came out hitting,” Maryville coach Mark Owens said.
Cam Greer got a run home for Maryville in the fourth to trim the deficit to one. An inning later, the home team went ahead to stay.
Brown and Tipton boarded on back-to-back McMinn errors to set the table. Lucas hit next and belted a two-RBI single back through the infield for a 4-3 Maryville lead.
“I just saw it well,” he said. “It felt really good.”
With Lucas and Bohanan getting home before the end of the frame, Adsit singling home Bohanan for the RBI, Maryville needed three outs to secure the title.
Owens and assistant coach Jeff Nuchols had a decision to make. Stay with Adsit, who, if he worked the sixth, would exceed his pitch limit and be ineligible for an if-necessary tiebreaker the next day?
Or, stay with the hot arm?
“He (Nuchols) said, ‘No. We’re going to win it right now,’” Owens said.
Adsit retired the first two batters by strikeout — on six pitches.
“He (Owens) just said, ‘Throw strikes,’” Adsit said. “He said, ‘It’s up to you.’”
The Swafford, game-ending ground ball came with Adsit ahead, 1-2, in the count.
Maryville Minor League All-Stars: Bryce Bohanan, Brock Nuchols, Tyler Adsit, Cam Greer, Mark Owens, Tyler Hansford, Jay Brown, Chandler Tipton, James Lucas, Ethan Miller, Sam Shepherd. Coaches: Mark Owens, Jeff Nuchols, Jason Brown.