PETAL – A relaxed Kirk Presley exited the ballpark Saturday.
The Tupelo 49ers coach watched his team overcome a two-hour rain delay and pound out 13 hits to defeat Booneville 8-3 in the winner’s bracket of the American Legion State Tournament at Petal High School.
Tupelo (18-9) advances to the tournament’s championship game undefeated. The 49ers won their opener Friday, beating host Hattiesburg 4-1.
“This is where we want to be,” Presley said. “We’ll let these other guys fight each other the rest of the day. We’ll go relax.”
The remainder of Saturday’s schedule was washed out. Play resumes today at noon with Pontotoc playing Hattiesburg. The winner will play Booneville at 3 p.m.
Today’s survivor will play Tupelo – and must beat the 49ers twice – on Monday for the state championship.
Tupelo’s game against Booneville was delayed after six innings with the 49ers leading 6-2.
J.G. Miley paced Tupelo offensively with three hits, including a double in the eighth inning. The speedy outfielder scored three runs, one from second base on a sacrifice bunt in the first inning.
“J.G. is a game-changer when he’s on base,” Presley said. “He’s going to give you a good at-bat. With his speed, defenses have to respect him.”
Tupelo’s bats produced three runs on four hits in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie. Hudson Roy and Tanner Poole had RBI singles in the inning.
“They got the breaks and we didn’t,” Booneville coach Caleb Reno said. “Some days it doesn’t go your way.”
Booneville (15-19) had reached the winner’s bracket with a 6-4 victory Friday against Northeast Mississippi rival Pontotoc.
Following the rain delay, Tupelo scored a run in the seventh on Miley’s double and a sacrifice fly by Hayden Williams.
The 49ers added an insurance run in the ninth on back-to-back singles by Tucker Jenkins and Russ Johnson.
Tupelo’s starter, right-hander McKamy Smith, worked six innings to get the win. He gave up four hits and struck out seven.
“McKamy pitched his tail off and Tucker (Jenkins) came in and did his job in relief,” Presley said.