By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Trojans opened the 2018 District 15-2A Baseball Tournament with a sluggish start, falling behind 7-0 to the Bolivar Central Tigers.
That contest ended with Bolivar winning 11-2 and forcing the Trojans on the brink of elimination. Millington returned to action May 7 on USA Stadium Field No. 2 to face the Ripley Tigers.
Winner would advance in the tournament, while the loser would see the 2018 season come to an end. Once again Millington fell behind early. The Trojan rallied behind the solid pitching of Trevor Meadows, sparkling defensive plays and some timely hitting.
It wasn’t enough to overcome the Tigers’ lead and Millington was eliminated 6-4. The defeat brought an end to the varsity career of Trojan senior catcher Josh Groom.
Groom was the on-the-field leader for Head Coach Zane Adams. He directed a roster of underclassmen with his words and play on the field.
“A lot of these guys have gone from sitting on the bench for most of the game and watching it all go down,” Groom said, “to being out here on the field making the plays when we needed them.”
It was the young guys like Drake Shepard who gave Millington a chance to win against Ripley. Shepard stroked a single to score sophomore Tommy Clifton to make the score 6-3 in the third inning.
The Trojan produced a three-run rally in that frame behind hits from Sam Johnson, Dean Karash and Dylan Doyle.
Meadows did his job from the mound striking out a pair of Tigers in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, the young hurler gave up a pair of base hits. Then Meadows neutralized the Ripley threat with three ground outs.
In the sixth inning the Trojans chipped into the Ripley lead with Johnson leading off with a double. Karash replaced him on second base with a double of his own driving in Johnson to make the tally 6-4.
Ripley was able to record the final six outs needed to advance. Millington’s season of growth and development concluded.
As he started to gather his tools in the USA Stadium dugout for the last time as a Trojan, Groom reflected on his potential impact on the 2018 team.
“Family, friendship and hard work, just showing you need to leave everything on the field as much as possible,” he said.
Groom said he will miss all of his teammates after developing a strong bond.
“This is my family,” he concluded. “These are my brothers. I spend more time with them than I have in my own house with my own family. They’ve been here for me and I’ve been here for them. All of these games, all these times, I’m going to remember all of it.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.