By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – For the Class 1A/2A East All-Stars, was Saturday about having fun, or winning?
It turned out to be a little of both as the East defeated the West 8-5 in the small-school matchup of the 21st NEMCABB (Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association for Better Baseball) All-Star Game.
“This was fun from start to finish,” said East coach Scott Collier, the head coach at Mantachie. “We had a lot of talent, a lot of pitching, and a lot of players from different programs that helped us win.”
From starter Collin Minga of Mantachie, to closer Chase Reeves of Hamilton, the East basically controlled the West from the mound. Minga was nearly perfect in his three innings of work, allowing only one hit.
But that one hit was the only mistake by him, and it gave the West the early lead in the contest. With two out in the top of the first, Hayden Hendricks of East Webster took the first pitch he saw and lined it over the centerfield fence for a 1-0 lead.
The East offense began to get on the same page with its pitching in the middle innings.
In the bottom of the third, hits by Hamilton’s Austin Earnest and Parker Rye helped to load the bases. From there, a sacrifice fly by Reeves and a ball in the infield by Smithville’s Steve Adams gave the East a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, Hatley’s Cody Taylor doubled, and later scored on New Site’s Jake Smith’s sac fly. And in the sixth, the East plated two runs on a double by Earnest, a single by Zack McCoy of Mantachie, and a triple by Reeves.
The East big offense came in the fifth, where they scored three. Tupelo Christian Prepatory School’s Will Cockrell doubled in two runs in the frame, and a wild pitch scored another.
On the mound for the East, Cockrell threw two-plus innings, Earnest followed and pitched well with runners on base, and Reeves hurled the final two frames, allowing only one hit and two base runners.
“Minga and Cockrell were two pretty good starters, and Earnest threw good with runners on base,” Collier said. “It was nice just being to kick back, knowing you can’t make a bad move with these players.”
For the West, Falkner’s Will Robertson had a two-run double in the sixth, and followed that with a run scoring double in the seventh.