By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The legend of the Illinois Valley Central High School’s mascot came on a cloudy night during a football game in the 1940s.
The athletes located in Chillicothe, Ill., are known as the Grey Ghosts because during a gridiron battle on a foggy night the players appeared to look like ghosts. Last Friday on a picture-perfect day in Munford, Tenn., the IVC baseball players were clear to see. The Munford Cougars could locate most of the IVC pitching hitting the ball all over the Munford Baseball Field. But the Grey Ghosts showed some fight and overcame a 5-0 deficit to tie the game. The Cougars regrouped later in the contest to outscore the Grey Ghost 7-2 to prevail 12-7.
“It’s been a good but long week with Spring Break having a little something to do with that,” Munford Head Coach Jake Garbuzinski noted. “We’re on the cusp of Easter break with everybody’s family in town.
“You definitely don’t want to lull yourself to sleep like that. But it’s hard to complain being 5-0 this week and 8-1 overall. We definitely can to come out and play hard and sharp all seven innings — not just two or three.”
Munford’s first three innings against IVC helped it jumped out to a 5-0 advantage. After scoring two runs in the opening inning, the Cougars added three more runs in the third inning including a Jacob Sawyer two-run blast.
In the top of the fourth inning the Grey Ghosts’ bats seemed to appear out of then air producing five runs to tie the game.
Munford rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning to regain the lead courtesy of a Garrett Baugh double driving in Corey Simmons who stroked a triple to reach base.
Two innings later the Cougars added some insurance run sending six batters to the plate before recording an out. The rally started with a Gunner Vines walk.
Then Kyle Kelly singled to execute a hit-and-run. With Vines on third and Kelly on first, Simmons reached base to loaded the sacks for Baugh. Munford went ahead 7-5 when Baugh reached base on four balls. Then the big blow came when Cougar Joe Fulcher crushed a curveball to centerfield for a double. The Cougars were ahead 10-5. Sawyer had another big blow driving in Fulcher to make the score 11-5. Steven Kendricks added the final Munford RBI of the day to make the score 12-5. As the sun was setting on the day, the Grey Ghosts made one more appearance in the top of the seventh inning to score a pair of runs. But the game belonged to the Cougars.
“It’s been a productive day,” Garbuzinski said. “We swung the bats well. To get some younger guys in was good. You just don’t want to throw somebody out there at second, center or shortstop against Brighton or Dyer County or Hardin County. That was good but they did make me sweat there a little at the end. At the end we fought back and did what we were supposed to do.”
Off to one of the best starts in school history, Garbuzinski said taking on a good competition from across the United States and even closer to home will keep his players focused.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of staying hungry and showing up ready to play,” he concluded. “Our scheduling is going to help us with that. We’ve had a pretty good week and starting next week we have Germantown coming out here to play. Hopefully that will keep us on our toes.”