Short run at state...
But a memorable 2008
Raiders fall to Marist, wrap up 20-win season
BY BEN MUNRO
ATLANTA Madison County’s first trip to the state playoffs in four years lasted just about as long as the drive to and from Atlanta.
The Raiders were ousted quickly by Marist High School Friday, losing 7-0 and 11-0 in a forgettable twin bill for Madison County.
Marist looked very much like a team that won 17-straight games during the regular season as the Class AAAA baseball power struck for three runs in the first inning and four in the fifth in winning game one. Marist then wasted no time in eliminating Madison County in game two, plating four quick scores in the first inning en route to run-ruling the Raiders by the fifth.
This was Madison County’s first meeting in 12 years with the War Eagles.
The Raiders lost twice to Marist in the 1990s in the state playoffs and the tough luck continued Friday.
As Marist pushed 18 runs across the plate in four and a half hours worth of sun-splashed baseball, Madison County had just one baserunner reach third in the two games.
And when the Raiders did hit the ball squarely, it usually found the War Eagles’ gloves.
Marist starters Brodie Leibrandt (son of former major leaguer Charlie Leibrandt) and John Stembridge were both the beneficiaries of some excellent defensive work in holding Madison County off the scoreboard.
Marist first baseman Kash Manzelli made two leaping grabs to rob Madison County of extra bases while the War Eagle outfielders ran down fly balls in the gaps all afternoon long.
Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth, whose team finished the season at 20-8, said he was impressed with Marist’s glovework.
“They’re just so athletic and it really showed up defensively,” he said. “They played great defense. Their middle infielders are just so quick. They made every play without even a bobble. They turned four or five double plays that probably nobody in our region could turn, even us.”
Meanwhile, the Marist bats found the gaps, and then some.
Kyle Farmer homered twice, his first coming in the fifth inning of game one when he flew a two-run shot high into the leaves and branches beyond the left center field fence to give his team a 5-0 lead. Farmer homered to the opposite field in the second game with a solo shot just to right of the War Eagle scoreboard that put Marist up 6-0 in the second. The War Eagles scored five more runs over the next three innings to end the game.
Raider starter Taylor Hart suffered his only loss of the year in game one.
The senior, who fired a one-hitter in his final regular season outing, settled down after surrendering three runs in the first inning of game one, but was chased from the game after serving up three more runs in the fifth.
Game two starter Ethan Seagraves faced just seven batters before being pulled as Marist took a quick 4-0 lead.
At the plate, the Raiders managed just nine hits combined in the two games.
Madison County came into the games as winners of nine-straight and 17 of their last 20 to break a four-year postseason drought.
The Raiders must now replace three departing seniors, two of whom are starting pitchers, as they look to return to the playoffs in 2009.
“We’re losing 13 of 20 wins on the mound,” said Griffeth. “Your one and two guys are gone. Some guys are going to have to develop quick on the hill.”
While the trip to Marist wasn’t what the squad hoped for, Griffeth said this season was certainly enjoyable.
“I would have never thought we could have been 20-6 (in the regular season) yet at the same time you get done in the summer and you got kids who are dedicated and have good chemistry, you think you can have some success,” said Griffeth. “It was a fun team to watch.”