The Tupelo Golden Wave will go fishing for a state championship on the Mississippi Gulf Coast today.
But they’ll need to keep the boat afloat for more than an inning to give themselves a chance.
Game 2 of the Class 5A championship series is at 1 p.m. today at Pascagoula. The Panthers (30-4) won Game 1 easily 8-0 Wednesday at Tupelo.
Pascagoula scored four times in the first, and the Wave never got in the game. The Panthers came in with a reputation for strong pitching, but some Tupelo players were surprised by their offense which banged out 12 hits, five of them doubles.
“That was our first time to see Pascagoula, and everything we heard about them on our scouting reports was true,” Tupelo coach Larry Harmon said. “We know we can compete with them, and we can beat them. But we’re going to have to be hitting on all cylinders. We’re going to have to play defense with no errors, put the ball in play and score some runs.”
Freshman Justin Bounds (6-1), who will start today for Tupelo (27-11), hasn’t needed many runs in the playoffs. He had a scoreless innings streak snapped at 20 in Game 3 against Madison Central. Harmon expects Bounds to bounce back strong.
“There was only two pitches difference in that (Madison Central) game,” Harmon said. “One pitch was a three-run homer and one was a grand slam.”
The Wave will try not to allow the Pascagoula pitching staff such a large cushion to work with.
“We knew the first inning would be a key Wednesday,” Harmon said. “We wanted to hold their momentum down. When you give a four-run lead to a guy like (Blair) Varnes it’s tough to come back.”
Varnes ran his record to 14-0 and dropped his earned run averaged below 1.50. John Jordan, 9-1 and the anticipated starter today, got the last six outs. He gave up only one walk.
“I think we’ll come back and play well,” Harmon said. “We’re a little fatigued. This will be our third weekend in a row on the road.
“But we’ll have the whole summer to rest.”