With the 2020 high school baseball season on pause, for now or forever, let’s rank the best games of 2019 from the Tipton County area.
- Covington finishes off magical season with program’s third state title
The title game itself, an 11-1 win May 24 over Forrest at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, had very little drama, but it could not have been any more emotional. Covington scored five runs in the first inning and three more in the third to take immediate control.
Coaches never say this midway through a game, but while in the dugout I heard a couple of Charger coaches say it was over during the third inning. At that point, it felt like destiny.
Head coach Brad Warmath and his wife, Paige, had been battling life-threatening health issues throughout the season. Both were there to soak it all in.
As if that wasn’t enough to make it a monumental experience, there was one more thing coming, the kind of thing I would roll my eyes at if it happened in a movie.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth and Covington already leading 9-0, Warmath summoned Kyle Ginn from the bench to pinch hit. Ginn, a senior, had batted just once all year because of a knee injury.
He sent a rocket over the left field wall. As he rounded the bases I watched senior Austin Baskin squat down and cry. And he wasn’t the only one.
Journalists in the Floyd Stadium press box asked what was going on. Why was everybody crying?
You’d have to be a Charger to understand.
2. Brighton erases six-run deficit to claim district title
There were so many heroes in the May 7 District 13-AAA title game it’s hard to know where to start.
Brighton trailed Hardin County 6-0 early and was down to its last strike in the seventh, but the Cardinals got a ton of key hits and a gutsy pitching performance from Hunter Deering to pull out an 8-7 victory to win the district tournament title for the second straight season.
With Brighton trailing 7-6 in the top of the seventh, Jake Olivette stepped to the plate with two outs and came up with a two-out double to keep Brighton alive. Dylan Forbes followed him with an RBI single and after Deering shut down Hardin County in the bottom of the inning the game went into extra innings.
Hardin County intentionally walked Dalton Rushing to start the eighth. Sam Dunlap got his fourth hit of the game to load the bases and Garrison McBride walked, forcing in the game-winning run.
3. TRA stays alive with walk-off and gutsy pitching performance
Considering everything that was on the line and the way things worked out, the May 11 DII-A region semifinal game between Tipton-Rosemark and Grace Christian was definitely one of the best games of 2020.
The Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and it looked like TRA might cruise into the substate.
But Grace scored once in the second and twice in the third and that’s where the score stood until a dramatic eighth inning.
Jonah VanKampen and Tyler Byrd singled to open the bottom of the eighth and Jacob Dodson bunted them to second and third to set up Logan Notto, who was 0 for 2 with a strikeout at that point.
Notto sent the first pitch he saw up the middle for a single the wild celebration ensued on the Goodpasture Christian School field in Madison.
Rebel Zach Seward was masterful on the mound, striking out six and allowing six hits and one earned run over eight innings.
4. Corey Fleming walk-off double caps off wild Munford win
Munford lost eight one-run games in 2019, but on March 23 the Cougars won a close one anybody at the Cougar baseball field that day will remember for a while.
The Cougars appeared to be in control against Jackson South Side with a 7-2 lead heading into the sixth, but Hawks scored six times in the frame to take an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Munford’s first two batters were retired before a single by Kade Reed, a walk and a hit batsmen loaded the bases.
With a full count and the game on the line, Corey Fleming doubled to left to bring home Reed and Shane Cox, his second and third RBIs of the game, and give the Cougars a wild 9-8 win.
5. Covington gets past McNairy Central to advance to state
With everything that unfolded at the state tournament for the Chargers it’s easy to forget Covington had to win very close game to make it to Murfreesboro.
The Chargers hosted McNairy Central in a sectional game May 17 and things weren’t decided until the very end.
Covington’s Ty Warmath and McNairy’s Michael Wilder were locked in a pitchers’ duel and the Chargers led just 1-0 through five innings.
Austin Baskin and Brock Lomax led off the Covington’s sixth with singles and Drake Whitmore bunted them to second and third.
Christian Delashmit drove in Baskin with a sacrifice fly and Carter Davis singled in Lomax to give the Chargers some breathing room.
It turned out they didn’t need it.
Warmath (3 hits, 9 Ks) struck out the the first two batters in the top of the seventh, Delashmit came in to get the last out and the Chargers booked their trip to the ‘Boro with a 3-0 win.