By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
JACKSON – Facing elimination, Kossuth took advantage of a big inning just as Southeast Lauderdale did in Game 1 to extend its season one more game.
A nine-run fourth inning was all the Aggies needed to claim Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 3A state championship series, winning 9-3 over the Tigers at Smith-Wills Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kossuth won the coin flip postgame and will be the home team for Game 3, which will be played Monday at 4 p.m. in Jackson.
The nine-run frame for the Aggies (25-7) was the culmination of their game plan against Southeast Lauderdale starter LeDarius Clark.
“We did what we were wanting to do and that was work his count, get him behind and see what would happen and not swing at bad pitches,” Kossuth coach Daniel Threadgill said.
The plan worked as Clark (7-3) and two other Tiger pitchers walked six batters and hit two more in the first four innings of the game.
Josh Whitaker and Tyler Nelms both singled to begin the fourth for Kossuth. After David Gibson walked, Blake Nethery hit a chopper to third that was booted to score two runs.
Clark hit the next batter and was relieved by Josh Litchfield. John Mitchell greeted him with a two-run single to up Kossuth’s lead to 5-1.
Two more walks followed before Whitaker cleared the bases with a double down the left field line that made it 9-1.
Nathan Ross relieved Litchfield after Whitaker’s hit and did not allow a run the rest of the game.
Hunter Thrower hit the first pitch of the game from Gibson down the left field line for a double. Thrower scored later in the first on Mason Irby’s single to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
However, Gibson (10-1) calmed down and got Colby Ramey to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and leave the bases loaded.
“It was amazing, honestly,” Gibson said. “It was a big sigh of relief. They did score that run, but I just kept my composure.”
From that point, Gibson continued to effectively work around trouble until Mitchell relieved him in the seventh.
“We didn’t pitch very well, we didn’t make defensive plays, and we didn’t hit,” Tigers coach Shay Cooper said. “You can’t expect to win when you don’t play the game.”