GREENVILLE – Jordan Summerford stood at centerfield Tuesday night and hugged seven of his Smithville baseball players, one by one.
Just minutes prior, those seven players witnessed Smithville not just get bounced from the Class 1A playoffs, but saw the curtain close on their prep careers with a 9-3 loss to Greenville St. Joseph.
“I just told them I’m proud of them for coming back,” Summeford said after the Seminoles’ were swept 2-0 in the second-round series. “They could have just laid down and quit, but they kept fighting.”
And Smithville (14-7) had plenty of reasons to throw in the hat. The EF-5 tornado that ripped through the small community last Wednesday may have damaged homes, but their spirits are still intact.
“We could have folded up ship … and forfeited the rest of the season. And nobody would’ve have blamed us,” he said. “But I’m proud of the guys for the way they came back and wanted to play.”
Down 7-1 in the top of the sixth inning, the Seminoles gained some momentum after an Antwune Freeman basehit and an two-run single by Austin Spann. However, Smithville ended the inning with three straight strikeouts.
The Fighting Irish (14-7) responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double by Hunter McGaugh, putting the game out of reach.
In the first game of the series, St. Joseph’s Raines Rester accounted for seven RBIs and two home runs. Summerford made sure the power hitter didn’t have a repeat performance by intentionally walking him on his first two at-bats.
“You got to respect a kid like that,” he said. “That’s why we tried to stay away from him.”
St. Joseph’s pitcher, J’Daylan Jackson stepped up with 15 strikeouts and a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning for the 7-1 lead.
Freeman had two of Smith-ville’s six hits and Kyle Jackson had a RBI triple in the top of the thirdto give the Seminoles their first run of the game.
Said Summerford, “We’re going to rebuild. And come back, hopefully, with a good team next year. And make another run to the playoffs.”
Kenneth Mister/Delta Democrat Times