Dawgs win 2023 7-3A district baseball crown

by Sean Dunlap

Franklin County High School’s varsity baseball team knew what was at stake in two regular season contests against 7-3A district foe Wesson and claimed hard-fought, back-to-back wins last week.

On the road Friday, April 14, the Bulldogs pulled off a come-from-behind 11-8 victory over the Cobras.

FC took an early lead over Wesson on Tuesday, April 11 and held on for the 6-2 win at home.
The pair of victories gave the Bulldogs the undisputed district championship thanks to a 10-0 run against regional teams during the 2023 campaign and boosted FC to a 17-4 season mark overall.


Franklin County ultimately capitalized on seven hits along with seven errors by Wesson — and a dash of late heroics — to defeat the Cobras and claim the coveted 7-3A crown.

The Dawgs took a 3-0 lead to start the game, but Wesson charged back with four runs in the bottom of the first.

Both teams scored one run apiece in the second with Wesson breaking things open with three runners crossing home plate in the bottom of the third to jump out to an 8-4 advantage.

Franklin County answered loudly, though, in the top of the fifth with six runs along with another in the top of the seventh while holding the Cobras scoreless down the stretch for the 11-8 win.

The Bulldogs saw Donovan Moore draw a lead-off walk and Larry Pernell stroke a single to begin the affair.

Dalton Meadows launched a homer to give Franklin County the 3-0 lead to start the outing.

In addition, Noah McCormick would reach on an error and Jamari Tolliver collected a walk, but the duo would be left stranded.

Moore reached on an error in the top of the second and stole home to tie things up, 4-4, in the second inning.

From there, McCormick hit a single in the top of the third and five FC batters would strike out in the third and fourth frames.

Trailing 8-4, the Bulldogs’ fortunes turned in the top of the fifth as Pernell, Meadows and Quez Rancifer all reached on errors.

Pernell and Meadows scored on errors to pull FC to within two runs, 8-6, before McCormick was hit by a pitch and eventually plated a seventh run for Franklin County.

Tolliver then hit into a fielder’s choice for his team’s first out as Rancifer was tagged in the base path. He would score on a passed ball to tie the game at 8-all.

Terrance Fields followed by reaching on an error, Carter Spring struck out swinging and Peyton Hebert was hit by a Wesson pitch.
Dawson Halford, who served as Field’s courtesy runner, came home on a Cobras’ balk and Hebert plated FC’s 10th run on an error.

Moore and Pernell would both single and remain on the bases before the side was retired.

In the top of the sixth, McCormick saw his second single on the night.

The top of the seventh featured a lead-off single by Fields followed by a Judson Arnold walk. Hebert then laid down a sacrifice bunt and Moore lobbed a shot into a fielder’s choice that brought Halford — as Field’s courtesy runner — in for FC’s 11th run.

Pernell, who was 2-of-4 at the plate with a pair of singles and two runs scored, collected a walk for the Bulldogs in the seventh.

McCormick was 2-of-3 in at-bats with a pair of singles and one run scored.

Moore and Fields were both 1-of-4 in the game with the former scoring twice, collecting an RBI, drawing a walk and striking out once while the latter struck out twice.

Meadows went 1-of-5 with a home run and three RBI for the Bulldogs.

Rancifer was 0-of-4 with an RBI and two strike outs as Tolliver had an 0-of-3 effort with a walk and strike out.

Spring was also 0-of-3 with two strike outs, Hebert was 0-of-2 with a run and a strike out and Arnold went 0-of-0 with a walk.

Halford finished his night with two runs scored for Franklin County.

Spring and Meadows split pitching duties in the affair with Spring tossing two innings and Meadows spending five on the hill.

Spring was tagged for five runs (two earned) on three hits while striking out one and walking two. His pitch-to-strike ratio of 50-27 (54 percent).

Meadows, who took the win, surrendered three runs (all earned) on two hits with five strike outs and three walks. His pitch-to-strike ratio was 90-49 (54.4 percent).

FC recorded three errors in the contest and left seven baserunners stranded, and Wesson had five hits while leaving six runners on board the bags.


Despite a slow start that saw the Diamond Dawgs hold the lead much of the way, things didn’t really change until the top of the third when Franklin County turned a rare triple play to disrupt the Cobras’ momentum.

Wesson’s runs — one each — came in the top of the first and second frames while FC, thanks to six hits, scored three in the bottom half of the first and one each in the second, third and fourth.

The Cobras held a 1-0 lead to start the outing, and FC rallied in the bottom of the frame as Moore led off with a double and Pernell earned a walk.

Meadows came to the plate and clubbed a double that brought Moore in to knot the game at 1-all.

Pernell scored on a passed ball and McCormick followed with a single to right that pushed Meadows across home plate.

Dakota Chisholm was also hit by a pitch before the side was retired.

In the bottom of the second, Pernell pounded a double and scored after Meadows reached on an error.

The top of the third was a watershed moment for Franklin County as the Bulldogs recorded a 1-3-6 triple play from Tolliver on the pitcher’s mound to McCormick at first to Moore at short.

That series ended Wesson’s scoring threat and the Cobras would not see another run the rest of the way.

Offensively, FC saw six players collect one hit apiece in Tuesday’s win.

Pernell was 1-of-3 with a double, two runs scored, a walk and reached on an error.

Moore and Meadows went 1-of-4 with both players stroking a double each and the duo reached on an error one time apiece.

Moore scored twice and struck out as many times while Meadows plated one run along with a run scored, an RBI and a strike out.

McCormick was 1-of-4 with a single, an RBI and two strike outs.

Tolliver was 1-of-3 with a single, a run scored and two strike outs.

Spring had a single in a 1-of-1 at-bat effort.

Rancifer, Fields and Hebert were all 0-of-3 with Rancifer drawing a walk and striking out once.

Fields reached on an error with two strikeouts while Hebert also reached on an error, struck out and grounded out.

On the hill, Meadows and Tolliver led the charge for Franklin County.

Meadows threw 58 pitches in two innings of work and was tagged for two runs (both earned) on three hits. He struck out two and walked four Wesson batters.

Tolliver, over the course of five innings, threw 40 pitches and hamstrung the Cobras with no runs nor hits during his tenure. He struck out three batters in picking up the pitching victory.

• • •


Franklin County, as the No. 1-seeded team from District 7-3A, will begin post-season play next week against the Forest Bearcats, which is the No. 4-seeded team from District 5-3A.

FC will host the first contest of that best two-of-three series on Tuesday, April 25.