Veteran teams loaded with talent and accustomed to success don't need any help, but Marion County provided it anyway Friday evening.
The Warriors committed five errors and had just one hitter get past first base in a 10-0 Class A state baseball sectional loss to perennial power Friendship Christian. The game was scheduled to be played at Friendship Christian, but rainy weather led the teams to agree to meet at Lookout Valley instead.
"The error bug definitely bit us tonight," Marion County coach J.J. Gatlin said. "You don't climb out of a hole that errors create and compete with a team like Friendship Christian.
"But I'm still very proud of what this team accomplished. Most people didn't expect this much, but they competed and battled and reached this round, which is a big deal."
Marion's nine seniors helped a late-season surge to claim the District 6-A tournament championship and win 20 games.
But Commanders senior Brennan Swindoll was dominant in Friday's win, helping his team reach the state tournament for a seventh straight season. Friendship Christian, which has a state championship and a runner-up finish during that seven-year run, has lost only two of its last 25 games.
Swindoll, who signed with Chattanooga State earlier in the day along with teammate Stefan Remus, also had a double and two RBIs.
"We've got a lot of seniors who have been with this program and have won a lot of games with our football team, too, so they're used to playing in big games," Commanders coach John McNeal said. "We've got some kids who just know how to play the game, and we're pretty strong all through the lineup. They know how to take advantage of other teams' mistakes, too."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...