By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In the moist Munford Baseball Field outfield grass, Cougars Head Coach Jake Garbuzinski gathered his 2016 Munford squad for the last time.
The Regional Monday night ended in disappointment at the hands of the Arlington Tigers 13-5. While the Tigers prepared for the Region 7-3A Tournament championship game, Garbuzinski had to get his boys ready to say goodbye to the seniors who helped rebuild the Cougar Baseball program.
Arlington jumped out 5-0 early in the Region 7-3A Semifinal contest. The Cougars fought back with 4 runs in the second inning. Joe Fulcher drove in a pair of runs with a single and bases loaded walks brought home two more runs.
But the Tigers went on to outscore Munford 8-1 the rest of the game.
“The ball just really didn’t bounce our way in the beginning,” Garbuzinski noted. “We just couldn’t stop the snowball effect. You don’t want to take anything away from Arlington or the great season we had. But they’re a great ball club and have a great chance of making it to Murfreesboro. If it’s going to be anybody to knock us out, they are a pretty good ball club.”
Tiger ace Hayden Edwards neutralized the recently hot Munford lineup with his sidearm delivery. Before the contest against Arlington, the Cougars raced through the District 13-3A Baseball Tournament with a 3-1 record beating the defending champion Dyer County in the title series.
After falling behind by 5 runs against Arlington, Garbuzinski wasn’t worried that his team would fight back.
“We definitely showed the resolve,” he said. “We’ve had some people tell us the past couple of weeks and through the district tournament that the one thing they appreciate seeing out of Munford Baseball now, they’re back to fighting and never giving up.”
The Cougars had a set back before the game with Fulcher being limited and he didn’t start the game on the mound. Munford seniors Dusty Baker and Jacob Sawyers took on the challenge of facing the Tigers.
Both senior hurlers were among the leaders in all pitching stats for the Cougars.
Errors and miscues would be the doom of the Cougars against Arlington. Despite the final setback of the season, Garbuzinski said 2016 will be remembered for the highs and as the next step back to prominence for Munford.
“Winning the district championship was our goal, the first one in 12 years,” he concluded. “A lot of these guys will be remembered as the foundation of what we’re trying to do here. Because they have been a big part of the last two years turning this thing around. We just want to make sure we keep the ship rowing in the right direction.”