PEARL – Robert Gordon said his Myrtle High baseball team absolutely refuses to lose.
With a humble but confident attitude, Hawks senior second baseman Sean Wiginton laced a one-out single to right that scored Syd Beasley with the winning run in Wednesday afternoon’s Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 1A state championship series.
Myrtle’s 5-4 victory evened the best-of-three series at a game apiece and forced a decisive Game 3 on Friday morning at 10 at Pearl’s Trustmark Park.
“I just kind of humbled myself down,” Wiginton said about his game-winning at-bat, “just shortened my swing up and choked up and glad I was able to get on base.
“I had a lot of faith in our guys and I believe in them, and I knew we could do it.”
Wiginton said Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ because He strengthens me,” was the scripture running through his head in the final at-bat.
“I just had to do whatever I can to get on base and be a hard out,” he said.
Wiginton’s positive attitude best summed up Myrtle’s afternoon, a difficult one to say the least for a team that dyed its hair blonde in reminiscence of the 2002 state-champion Myrtle team, which did the same thing for its title series against St. Aloysius.
The Hawks led 3-0 after the first inning, but St. Aloysius battled back to take the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fourth.
The Hawks’ Game 2 starting pitcher, Jimel Judon (6-3), battled through fatigue and control issues (seven walks, one hit batsman) to throw a five-hitter and earn a complete-game victory. The Ole Miss signee threw 138 pitches on the afternoon.
“You could tell he was running out of juice,” Myrtle coach Robert Gordon said of his pitcher. “Luckily, he had his curveball working today.
“He got behind a lot in the count, and that’s what ended up hurting. … He struggled. He was up and down, he was all around (the plate). It was tough on him, but he battled.”
Judon helped himself on the mound with a two-run homer – his 13th on the season – to left center in the bottom of the first. Beau Cummings, a basketball teammate of Judon’s, scored Myrtle’s third run of the inning when Larry Parks swung at a pitch in the dirt for strike three and St. Aloysius couldn’t get him out at first. Cummings was able to score from second on the play with two outs in the inning.
“We gave them a run early on the strikeout,” said St. Aloysius coach Clint Wilkerson. “You just can’t do those things and win big-time games.”
Myrtle tied the game at 4-all in the bottom of the sixth when Judon, Cummings and Adam Baker singled in consecutive at-bats. Baker’s single to center drove in Judon with the tying run.
Beasley singled to lead off the seventh and Justin Pickens moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Wiginton then followed with the game-winning hit.
“They just refused to lose and I can’t stress how proud of them I am,” Gordon said of his team. “They are wanting this thing. We didn’t come down here to get second place.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal