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Raiders stumble in opening round of district baseball tournament

Nate Rutledge (left) and Carter McKenzie

Coffee County beat the Franklin County Rebels 4 times during the regular season.

But Franklin County got a big win Wednesday night.

The Rebels took the lead in the first inning over Coffee County and never trailed, hanging on late for an 8-6 win over the Red Raiders in the opening round of the District 6-4A baseball tournament at Loel E Bennett Stadium – a game you heard live on Thunder Radio.

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The Raiders nearly pulled off a miracle comeback in the bottom of the 7th.

Down 8-5 with 2 outs and 2 runners on, Carter McKenzie’s line drive to center looked to be caught and the game over. But the ball was dropped, sending Caleb Moran home, putting runners at the corners and bringing the winning run to the plate.

But the Rebels ended the threat, chasing down a fly ball in foul territory to end the game.

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Down 1-0 in the second inning, Coffee County tied the score 1-1 on a solo home run to left field by Carter McKenzie. But the Rebels went back ahead an inning later with the help of an error, hit batsman and a 2-run single by Gus Gardner. After that the Rebels never looked back.

The Raiders went through 5 different pitchers. McKenzie took the loss, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits over 3 innings. Timothy Henderson gave up 3 runs over 1.1 innings. Brady Daugherty gave up 1 over 1.2.

The Rebels were poised to blow the game wide open in the top of the seventh. With runners on first and second with no outs and an 8-5 lead, the Rebels tried to bunt. But Jayden Fellers pounced off the mound, made a diving catch and spun to throw out the runner venturing too far off second base. Fellers then got a strikeout to end the threat.

The Raiders were outhit 10-7 in the loss.

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Coffee County is in the loser’s bracket and will now play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against Warren County. The Pioneers lost to Shelbyville 3-2 in 10 innings Wednesday night.

Cole Pippenger fires a perfect throw to first base on the run in the first inning Wednesday, May 3, 2023. — Photo by Holly Peterson, THUNDER RADIO WMSR

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