SEMINARY It seems appropriate that the same weekend baseball philsopher Yogi Berra got an honorary doctorate, South Pontotoc and Seminary gave a two-game seminar on his greatest theory:
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
When it was finally over, Seminary (24-7) had emerged as the 1996 Class 2A state baseball champion by the barest.
It took an RBI in the bottom of the seventh for Seminary to emerge with a 12-11 win in the deciding game of the series Saturday.
South Pontotoc, down by one game in the best-of-three series after a 15-4 loss at Springville Tuesday, seemed destined to suffer a sweep after trailing in the first game Saturday 8-3. But an error with two out in the fifth proved it wasn’t over, and the Cougars scored eight unearned runs. The Cougars hung on, ending the first game on a double play to win 11-10.
They promply jumped off to an 😯 lead in the deciding game. But it still wasn’t over.
“Momentum just kept switching all day, and then Sonny (Holcomb) ran out of gas and they started hitting him,” said Jason Caldwell, who had a home run and four RBI in the final game after going 4-for-5 in the first game.
Caldwell (6-for-7), Shane Davis (5-for-7) and Seminary senior designated hitter Jeremy Wade, who as 9-for-5 with five RBI in his first start of the season, lead the offensive duel.
A major factor Saturday was that South Pontotoc left-hander Sonny Holcomb’s arm finally gave out after more than 200 pitches in the doubleheader.
“It isn’t hurting me, but I don’t think I’ll throw again for a while,” said Holcomb (15-2), who was 7-1 in the playoffs after winning the first game.
South Pontotoc coach Steve Lyles said he had no problem going with Holcomb in both games.
“He wanted the ball and told me he wasn’t hurting. He wanted the opporunity and deserved it,” Lyles said.
Seminary coach Randy Lott said, “This is probably the most exciting playoff series ever, and that pitcher was unbelievable to throw as many pitches as he did. He seemed to keep getting stronger until he lost it.”
But the series ultimately turned on a player who didn’t have a single at-bat Saturday: Seminary left fielder Jason Hemeter.
Seminary scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth, to chase Holcomb and take an 11-8 lead. South Pontotoc charged back to tie the game on a two-run Grant Stegall single. Holcomb then lined a ball to left that looked like a sure double, but Hemeter made a dive and barely got his glove between grass and ball to end the inning. He looked amazed to see the ball in the glove.
“If he doesn’t catch that, no telling what happens. There were so many momentum swings,” Lott said.
That was the last momentum swing. Steve Taornina led off the bottom of the inning with a triple off losing pitcher Chance Austin (3-1), and scored after South Pontotoc intentionally loaded the bases on Adam Wade’s single.
Even when it was over, folks found it hard to believe it. Both the excited Seminary crowd and the large South Pontotoc contingent lingered long after the game in a picnic atmosphere.
The split doubleheader ended the most successful South Pontotoc season ever, including its first trip to the state championship series.
“This is what it was all about, the pressure and the excitement,” Lyles said. “In those last six hours there were a lot of ‘might haves.’ “
South Pontotoc 11, Seminary 10
South Pontotoc 100 280 0 11 13 6
Seminary 031 411 0 10 11 3
WP – Sonny Holcomb (15-2). LP – Kenny Williamson (5-2). Multiple hits – (SP) Jason Caldwell 4, Shane Davis 4, Chance Austin 2; (Se) Williamson 2, Adam Wade 2, Chris Peden 2, Christopher Folkes 2, Jeremy Wade 2. 2B – (SP) Caldwell, Grant Stegall, Austin; (Se) J. Wade. 3B – (Se) Teddy Mooney. HR – (Se) Williamson (15).
Seminary 12, South Pontotoc 11
South Pontotoc 350 000 3 – 11 9 2
Seminary 002 306 1 – 12 13 0
WP – Kenny Williamson (6-2). LP – Chance Austin (3-1). Multiple hits – (SP) Chad Washington 2, Jason Caldwell 2, Daniel Craig 2; (Se) Steve Taornina 3, Adam Wade 2, Jeremy Wade 3, Michael Barrett 2. 2B – (SP) S.Holcomb, Washington 2, Shane Davis; (Se) J. Wade. HR – (SP) Caldwell, Daniel Craig. Records: South Pontotoc 30-10, Seminary 24-7.
Notes: Of the six walks given up by the South Pontotoc state in the game one was not intentional five to Kenny Williamson who finished the year with 17 home runs.