By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – “If this team continues to learn how to fight, they could be very dangerous.”
Such was the retrospective musing on Friday of a relieved Tupelo Christian Prep head coach Will Lowery.
Lowery had every reason to have a variety of thoughts flowing through his head, having just watched his team score three runs in its last at-bat to edge West Union 8-7 in Game 1 of the Class 1A quarterfinals series.
“I told the guys that we needed that kind of win more than we needed a shutout,” Lowery said. “We could very easily be in a game like this again, maybe even tomorrow.
“Every coach will tell you getting the first game of a series is the biggest. But we have to be prepared for West Union.”
Game 2 of this best-of-three playoff series will be at 2 p.m. today at West Union, with Game 3 back in Tupelo.
Tupelo Christian (17-9) entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 7-5, with Stephen Sexton ripping a double into the left field corner to lead off the inning. Following a walk, Zachary Tybor laid down a bunt that resulted in an overthrow to first base, allowing the two runners to score and knot the score at 7-7.
Tybor hustled to third on the play, then scored as Hayden Elliot hit a grounder in the infield, with the ensuing throw to first off target.
“We’ve got to put this behind us,” West Union head coach Ashley Russell said. “But this is a three-game series for a reason.”
In the small confines of Andy Reese Field at Tupelo’s City Park, both teams appeared ready early to make the scoreboard work overtime.
After West Union (15-14) scratched out a run in the top of the first, TCPS responded nicely in the bottom of the frame. Sexton had an RBI double in the frame, followed by a two-run home run by Drew Carter.
West Union bounced back in the top of the second, beginning with a leadoff home run by Chase Bogue. Eventually, six runs crossed the plate, aided by two errors and a two-run single by Drew Garrett.
TCPS added a solo run in the second, and solo home run by Sexton in the third.
The comeback helped Elliot, a freshman, pick up the win with three and two-thirds of relief work.