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Because game details on the Manchester all-stars’ performance in the 50/70 Intermediate League state tournament were not available in time for this week’s print edition, they are being offered here as exclusive online content.
Manchester’s 13-year olds went 1-2 in the first-ever Tennessee Intermediate League state tournament in Spring Hill last week. After losing their opening game to Mt. Juliet, the all-stars went on to defeat Burns Little League before falling to South Jefferson County in the double-elimination tournament.
“This was the first season of 13-year-old Little League, but everyone at the state tournament knew our boys came to play,” said Dale Cooper, Manchester Little League president. “The two games we lost were by a total of 3 runs. I congratulate our 13 boys there for all contributing to a great showing in state tourney play.”
Here is a recap of Manchester’s peformance each game.
Mt. Juliet 12, Manchester 11
The tournament started two days late after rain delays. Manchester met Mt. Juliet the day after that team defeated McMinn County 19-7, and managed to battle to within one run.
Starter Carlos Medina shut down Mt. Juliet 1-2-3 in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning Jeremiah Franklin ripped a drive down the right field line for a one-out triple. Manchester, however, was unable to push a run across.
In the second inning Mt. Juliet scored two while again holding Manchester runless on three straight ground-outs.
The Mt. Juliet all-stars’ big inning was the third, when they scored six runs on a combination of hits and throwing errors.
In the bottom of the third, however, Manchester began to dig out of its 8-0 hole with a six-run drive. Benjamin Reid began the rally with one out by reaching first base on a walk. Brandyn White then hammered a triple to plate Reid, and Franklin followed with his second triple of the game to score White. Franklin scored with two outs when Brody Cooper singled. After Cooper stole second he scored on Austin Tensfield’s single. Tensfield went on to steal second, and Andrew Brandon reached first on a walk. Both runners scored when pinch hitter Chance Lowery drove a clutch shot to right center. Brandon Baumstein, who entered the game as a pinch runner, stole second, but ended up stranded.
Mt. Juliet failed to score in the fourth, and Manchester managed to move within one after Franklin was hit by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Hunter Courtoy’s single.
Throwing errors in the fifth allowed Mt. Juliet to widen its lead to 10-7 before Brandon struck out the side. In the home end of the fifth, Brandon reached third on a single, was advanced on singles by Tensfield and Baumstein, and then scored by stealing home. That run narrowed the gap to 10-8.
In the top of the sixth Mt. Juliet took advantage of a walk and two hits to score its final two runs. When it was Manchester’s turn at the plate White scored after a single, stolen base, and a hit by Cooper. Tensfield and Brandon followed with singles to score both Cooper and Tensfield. At the end of the inning the score stood 12-11 in favor of Mt. Juliet. Neither team scored in a rain-soaked seventh.
Manchester 10, Burns 7
Playing on Wednesday, Manchester met Burns Little League for their first game in the loser’s bracket. The game was delayed after the second inning by lightning and did not end till 12:44 a.m. Thursday morning.
By the end of the first Burns had jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but in the second Manchester Tensfield singled, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Burns scored three more in the top of the third and shut down Manchester 1-2-3 to widen their lead to 6-1 by the beginning of the fourth. That’s when the momentum began to change in Manchester’s favor.
“We knew we took a great hitting team to Spring Hill, and the boys’ confidence in each other shined for the next four innings,” Dale Cooper said.
Manchester’s White, who took the mound in relief with two outs in the first inning, settled down and gave up only one run, unearned, before running out of pitches and being relieved with two outs in the sixth by Franklin.
In the top of the fourth Medina scored Manchester’s lone run after he walked, advanced to third on two passed balls and scored on Brody Cooper’s 5-3 ground out. In the fifth Baumstein singled and stole second, and Courtoy walked. White then short-hopped a triple off the left field fence and scored on a throwing error by the leftfielder.
Cooper led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, stole second, moved to third on Brandon’s ground-out and scored on a two-out single by Scottie Duke.
South Jefferson 4, Manchester 2
After two slugfests, Manchester’s meeting with South Jefferson County was a relative pitchers’ duel as South Jefferson’s Trevor Whitley faced Manchester’s Tensfield. While Whitley went only 20 pitches, Tensfield went the 95-pitch limit.
Tensfield shut out South Jefferson in the first inning but gave up an unearned run in the second.
“I think after a couple of simple throwing errors the boys were thinking about it too much and trying to guide their throws,” Dale Cooper said.
Tensfield allowed two runs before reaching his pitch limit, and South Jefferson scored two more off relief.
Although Manchester did hit the ball early in the game, the team was repeatedly unable to plate runners from scoring position. After Manchester’s first four batters fanned in the face of Whitley’s curveball, Medina got his team’s first hit of the game in the second with a double. He ended up stranded at second, however. White doubled in the third, but was also left stranded. In the fourth it was Cooper who doubled, but his pinch runner was picked off after leaving base on a caught line-drive to second.
Courtoy singled in the fifth with one out. Lowery then stroked what would have been a clean single between first and second, but Courtoy was called out when he was hit by the batted ball.
“You have to have some luck in close games, and the lady chose to stay out of our dugout tonight,” said Manchester coach Craig Tensfield.
Manchester brought the hit attack again in the bottom of the sixth. With one out Franklin and then Austin Tensfield singled. Both runners went on to score on Brody Cooper’s single for Manchester’s only runs of the game. Christian Grennell and Courtoy then walked to load the bases with two outs. At that point South Jefferson brought Whitley back to the mound with his overpowering curveball to get the final out and preserve the win for his team.
The 50/70 Intermediate league is intended to help boys make the transition from smaller Little League fields to adult-sized fields used in Babe Ruth League and beyond. The Intermediate League features 50 feet from pitcher’s rubber to home plate and 70 feet between bases.
Special thanks to Dale Cooper for contributing the details of this story.