By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford/Millington series in March used to be a district showdown when Zane Adams was playing for the Trojans.
But 10 years has passed and now the Munford Cougars vs. Millington Trojan games are a friendly rivalry giving the teams a chance to simulate a league atmosphere. On March 23, the Cougars led by Head Coach Jake Garbuzinski made the trip to Flag City to take on Adams’ Trojans.
The home debut for Adams as skipper of his alma mater started well with his team trailing only 1-0 after three innings. Then the Cougars outscored Millington 8-2 over the last four innings to prevail 9-2.
Coach Garbo’s club took advantage of Millington miscues in the field and aggressive base running to piece together rallies for the victory.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a slump,” he noted. “So we tried to hit-and-run, steal a couple of bases, do that kind of stuff while putting the ball into play. We wanted to put pressure on the other team. But against it all comes done to us doing the fundamental things right and getting those right.”
The fundamentals of pitching were executed by Munford’s ace Joseph Fulcher throughout the night. The hurler went six-plus innings giving up one hit while striking out 14 Trojans.
“I had my slider working good and my fastball sinking good on their bats,” Fulcher recalled. “I have to give a shout out to my defense for having my back. Taylor Ellison’s play at second base, phenomenal, really got me going there. It let me know I could trust my defense.”
Fulcher could also trust in his offense starting with a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Kyle Kelley scored on a passed ball. To make the advantage 3-0, Kelley used his bat to smack a single driving in Gunner Vines and Garrett Baugh.
Fulcher was still locked in from the mound in the fourth inning striking out two more Trojans. But one of his few mistakes of the night allowed a run for Millington with Fulcher’s balk. Trojan Noah Graham touched home plate from third to make the score 3-1.
Munford added two more runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth inning. The big blow in that stretch was a double off the bat of Brennan Hollie.
“We put some hits together and got some good at bats,” Fulcher said. “We had some guys come in pinch hitting and got the job done. As long as we stay hype in the dugout, we’re good to go.”
Fulcher was ahead 9-1 entering the seventh inning. But he ran into some trouble with the two Trojans reaching base. Garbo relieved his ace just two outs shy of a complete game.
“Joe Fulcher did what Joe Fulcher is supposed to do every time he goes onto the mound,” Garbuzinski said. “He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do this year. If he pitches like that every time, he’s going to be very hard to beat this year.”
Trojan Alex Phillips singled in teammate Lucas Van Emelen to make the final tally 9-2 in favor of Munford.
With the victory, the Cougars struck first in the two-game series. The Trojans made the trip up to Tipton County the following night. Fulcher said the early season showdown is ideal preparation for both teams.
“I’m excited and looking forward to district time,” he concluded. “If we play like this we’re going to put up a big challenge against our opponents.”