By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
KOSSUTH – Tyler Mercer remembers the thrill and experience of playing for a state championship as a sophomore at Kossuth last season.
On Saturday, Mercer made sure the Aggies’ dreams of a second straight trip to the Jackson area were not derailed.
The right-handed pitcher tossed a complete game and struck out 10 to lead Kossuth to a 6-3 victory over Independence in Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 3A baseball state semifinals.
The decisive third game of the series is slated for 6 p.m. today at Independence. The winner advances to Trustmark Park to face South champion Sumrall.
“Last year it was great going to state, but we were expected to be there,” Mercer said. “You go down there and lose and it’s just a motivation to get better next year and win.”
After throwing a seven-pitch top of the first, Mercer got the Kossuth (18-13) offense started in the bottom half with a RBI double down the left field line.
The Aggies took advantage of early control issues by Independence (20-10) pitchers. Starter Tyler Presley and Caleb Kile combined to walk five and hit two batsmen – both with the bases loaded – in the first two innings.
“Yes they had some mistakes, but we capitalized because that’s what our job at the plate is to do,” said Aggies coach Daniel Threadgill. “Things are not going to be perfect all the time so you have to take the advantages.”
Leemarcus Boyd’s RBI single in the sixth inning cut Kossuth’s lead to 6-3 and moved another runner into scoring position.
But Josh Whitaker made a diving play at second base on a Wess Anglin ground ball to get the force out and end the final Independence threat.
Jacob Wilcher added two hits and two RBIs for Kossuth.