By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
GREENVILLE – Before the season, Falkner coach Chip Johnson promised seniors Cameron Russell and Will Robertson they would have a team, even with just 10 players.
On Monday evening, the two repaid him by winning the school’s first MHSAA North championship with a 2-1 win over St. Joseph.
Russell pitched three scoreless innings in Game 3 of the Class 1A North final series, then turned it over to Robertson, who nursed a 2-0 lead – striking out eight over the final four innings – to help the Eagles close out the home team.
The duo combined to strike-out 11 and scatter six hits, as Falkner won the series 2-1.
“Cameron basically gave us lights-out baseball for three innings and Will shut the door,” said an elated Johnson. “That’s the plan we had coming in.”
The Eagles have a short time to savor the victory, as they start a best-of-three series with South champion Nanih Waiya for a state title today at Smith Wills Stadium in Jackson at 1 p.m.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Scratching out runs
Falkner scored in the first inning on a RBI-single by David Lindsey that scored Dallas Hill, who reached on a hit-by-pitch. They added their final run in the third on a Trevor Wilson groundout that scored Robertson, who started the inning with a single, then stole two bases.
“Dirt-bag baseball,” said Johnson. “All year, we’ve just found ways to scratch out runs.”
St. Joseph scored their lone run in the fifth inning, after a single by Trey Bailey was followed by a RBI-double by Zack Houston.
They had the tying run 90 feet away with no outs in their final at-bat, after Houston hit his second double off the right field wall, then took third on a passed ball.
“I thought that ball was gone,” said Robertson, “When I saw it hit the wall, I was like ‘Thank the Lord.’ I knew I couldn’t let him score.”
Robertson then dialed up three consecutive strikeouts, fanning lead-off Brandon McTeer for the final out. Russell – at catcher – caught the final pitch, setting off a wild on-field celebration with a huge crowd of Falkner fans, who made the four-hour trip.
“This is a feeling like no other,” said Russell, who is Robertson’s first cousin. “I knew I had to come through and then to hand the ball off to Will was just a great feeling.”
n Game summary, Page 2B