By David Sharp
Unbeaten Knox County (7-0) lit up a hazy April 17 day with a 15 hit barrage and defeated tenth ranked Canton by an 8-5 final score. Daniel McMahon launched his first two home runs of the season. Bret Wilkerson was 3-4 with a run scored and Dylan Morgret added two RBI's. Brett Bryant was 3-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Zach Parrish led off the game with a grounder to second base that was mishandled for an error. Canton hurler Josh Fellinger was able to work around the error. Parrish stole second base but could get no further.
Fellinger drilled a Daniel McMahon delivery for a base hit leading off the Canton first. McMahon picked off the Tiger runner for the first out. Drew Ayers walked following Fellinger in the Tiger batting order.
Ayers worked his way to third base on a passed ball and a wild pitch. The Eagles were able to retire two tough batters keeping the game scoreless after one inning of play.
Brett Wilkerson and Dylan Morgret stroked consecutive singles leading off the Knox County second inning. Brett Bryant walked, loading the bases with none out.
Josh Fellinger turned up the heat and struck out the next two KCHS batters in order. Zach Parrish flew out to Dalton Baker at third base for the final out. Knox County stranded four runners in the first two innings and 12 on the day.
Daniel McMahon fanned the first two Canton batters in the bottom of the second inning. An error, a walk and a hit batsman filled the bases with Tigers.
Daniel McMahon won the battle with Canton standout Josh Fellinger, striking out the Tiger leadoff batter for the final out. Both teams missed several chances to gain advantages during the back and forth contest.
Knox County's first team all-stater drilled the baseball over the left center field fence for the first run of the game. "Daniel (McMahon) spent a lot of time taking extra batting practice the last few days," said KCHS coach Jesse Crawford.
"I have been teaching baseball for six years and coaching three. He is the toughest competitor I have ever coached," said Crawford. "He is a load of a player." Cody Morgenstern followed the circuit clout with a base hit.
Parker Dixson slammed another Knox County hit. Morgenstern later scored on an infield error, putting the Eagles up 2-0. Canton (8-2) came right back and tied the game in the bottom half of inning two.
Drew Ayers led off the Tiger second with a base hit. Ayers advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Luke Barton came through with a one out RBI single. Courtesy runner Ryan Chinnis scored the tying run on an error. Daniel McMahon struck out a batter for the final out with Tigers on first and third base.
Brett Bryant led off the KCHS fourth inning with a base hit. Bryant moved to second on a wild pitch and later scored on an error. Jordan Harrison reached base on the play and scored the fourth KC run when Zach Parrish lofted a sacrifice fly to center field.
Daniel McMahon singled with two out and moved up on a wild pitch. Ethan Baker was ruled to catch a Cody Morgenstern fly ball in short left field, keeping the score at 4-2 in favor of the Eagles after three and a half innings of play.
Nathan Uhlmeyer drew a walk leading off the Canton fourth inning. Jordan Harrison made a nice running catch for the first out, robbing Josh Fellinger of a hit.
Daniel McMahon struck out Drew Ayers for the second out. All stater Ethan Baker put the ball in play. Knox County wound up being charged with three unofficial error during the fourth frame contributing to a pair of Tiger runs and a tie game after four innings.
Luke Barton singled but was stranded on second base when Grant Lay rapped back to the mound for the final out. The teams moved to the fifth inning with the score knotted at four runs each.
Brett Wilkerson and Brett Bryant singled for Knox County in the top of the fifth but both runners were stranded. The first two men in the Tiger fifth went down in order.
Stephen Simmons drew a two out walk for Canton. Nathan Uhlmeyer drilled a line drive for an apparent base hit. Parker Dixson reached up and snared the baseball ending the inning with no scoring.
Zach Parrish lit the fuse for a four run Knox County sixth inning with a one out double. Parrish moved up to third base on a wild pitch. Daniel McMahon lofted a fly ball to right center field. The baseball went over the fence for a two run homer.
Our defense stepped up when it had to. You can expect a few errors in high school baseball," said Knox County senior Daniel McMahon. "We hit the ball really well and came out with a big win. I felt pretty comfortable at the plate. I got a couple of good fast balls and swung through them."
"We knew coming in that they were ranked in the state and that every run was going to be hard to come by," said McMahon. "That means a lot coming to their field and beating a team that was ranked ahead of us."
Parker Dixson lined a two out pitch for a base hit. Brett Wilkerson followed with a single. Dylan Morgret came through with a clutch two RBI base hit. Morgret moved to second base on an error.
Brett Bryant recorded another Eagle hit sending runners to first and third base with two down. Josh Fellinger was able to keep his team within striking distance when he retired a batter for the final out. Knox County held their momentum by retiring the side in order during the bottom of the sixth inning. The Eagles carried an 8-4 lead into the seventh inning.
Zach Parrish singled with one out in the seventh. Daniel McMahon walked. The runners moved up to second and third base. Josh Fellinger got out of the jam with no further damage.
Luke Barton drilled a Canton home run leading off the bottom of the seventh inning trimming the Eagle lead to 8-5. Daniel McMahon nailed down his fifth win of the season setting the next three Tigers down in order.
Canton (8-2) scored five runs on five hits and five errors. The Tigers stranded seven runners. Josh Fellinger struck out seven batters in seven innings pitched. Fellinger walked two batters and gave one earned run on 15 hits unofficially.
"The top of the order didn't do much today. Josh (Fellinger) probably didn't have his best stuff," said Canton coach Seth Minter. "We would like to have this one back, but that's baseball."
"Josh battled and finished the game for us," said Minter. "That's key because we have Atlanta on Monday. (Daniel) McMahon pitched a great game. He had two big time hits. We were pretty confident coming in. We know now we have some stuff to work on. I feel like we are further along than we were last year."
"We are 8-2, but we have to get better. We have to get ready for districts. Hats off to Knox County and Coach Crawford. They played a great game," said Minter.
Luke Barton led Canton with a 3-4 batting performance. Barton had a home run, scored two runs and two RBI's.
Knox County (7-0) score eight runs on 15 hits and five errors. The Eagles stranded 12 base runners. Daniel McMahon pitched seven innings of five hit ball, with four walks and two hit batsmen. Two of the Tiger runs were earned.
Zach Parrish went 2-4 at bat with a run scored and another driven in. Dylan Morgret was 2-4 with a pair of RBI's. Parker Dixson was 2-5 with a run scored. Eight of the nine slots in the Eagle batting order produced a run, a hit or both.
Daniel McMahon went 3-4 at the dish with two home runs, three RBI's and two runs scored. The Eagles and Tigers played in their 2007 Class 1 district championship game. Canton pulled out a win in the last two innings of a great game."
"We are absolutely hitting the cover off the baseball," said Jesse Crawford. "We have to shore things up defensively. The bottom line is that we just beat the number ten team ranked team in the state with their number one guy on the mound."
"We are 7-0 but we can't get complacent," said Crawford. "We have to keep chipping away and get better. This week has probably been the best week of baseball in the three years I have been coaching here."
Knox County plays at Putnam County on Monday, April 21 in Tri-Rivers Conference action. The Eagles travel to Highland on April 22 and host Atlanta on Thursday, April 24 weather permitting.