MOOREVILLE The more things changed the more they stayed the same for the South Pontotoc Cougars Thursday in a 7-4 win over Mooreville.
South Pontotoc had the new experiences of victory in a North Half Championship Class 2A playoff game after being swept the two previous trips (1992 and 1993), and winning without a sterling performance from pitcher Sonny Holcomb. The one constant for the Cougars was its bunting style of offense to put pressure on the defense.
“Laying down bunts has been what we have done all year long,” said South Pontotoc coach Steve Lyles, whose team improves to 28-8 on the season. “We moved people around and got the key hits when we needed them.”
Mooreville coach Rex Berryman saw a familiar sight as well. His team made 13 errors and gave up 12 unearned runs in a 22-20 win over Greenville St. Joseph last week. Against South Pontotoc Mooreville gave up four unearned runs on two errors in the first four innings.
“They did exactly what I would have done against us in forcing us to make plays defensively,” Berryman said. “Our offense and hitting can match up against anybody, but we can’t pick the ball up or throw it to the right place sometimes.”
South Pontotoc took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Shane Rowe and Daniel Craig scored after a Mooreville throwing error.
Mooreville’s Troopers, who are hitting .313 on the year, began to get to Holcomb in the third. Ian Foster scored on a bases loaded walk, and then Eric Baker drove in Rhasheen Dilworth and Jason Raper to give Mooreville a 3-2 lead.
Another Mooreville throwing error on a bunt allowed Craig and Chance Austin to score, putting South Pontotoc up 4-3 after four.
Mooreville tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when Jason McMillian doubled to bring in Jason Bishop.
After watching the usually perfect Holcomb, owner of a 0.68 ERA coming into the contest, struggle his teammates went to work in the sixth.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by Chad Washington and Jason Caldwell gave South Pontotoc the lead for good.
“Sonny didn’t have his best day, so we just had to hit the ball to win,” Washington said.
Lyles said Holcomb’s problems could be attributed to good Mooreville hitting.
“Give Mooreville credit; they swing the bats well,” Lyles said.
Holcomb may get another shot at Mooreville Saturday in South Pontotoc.
“I like to pitch on two days rest, especially after a bad outing like this,” Holcomb said.
Berryman said his team, now 24-10, will go with Daniel McKinney.
“Hopefully there will be a second game and then Rhasheen (Dilworth) will throw,” he said.
South Pontotoc 7, Mooreville 4
South Pontotoc 020 202 1 7 11 0
Mooreville 003 100 0 4 8 2
WP – Sonny Holcomb (13-1). LP – Rhasheen Dilworth (9-3). Multiple Hits – (S) Chad Washington 2, Chance Austin 2, John Fleming 2, (M) Jason Raper 4, Ian Foster 2; 2B – (S) Chad Washington, Jason Caldwell, (M) Jason Bishop; Records: South Pontotoc 28-8, Mooreville 24-10.
Notes: Dilworth came in to pitch in the fourth inning. South left 10 men on base. The two teams meet Saturday in South Pontotoc at 1 p.m.