By Brandon Speck
PEARL – A day off has likely never looked as good as it did on Thursday for Kossuth and Sumrall.
Kossuth won Wednesday’s Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 3A series at Trustmark Park, 7-6, but it took 11 innings and nearly four hours.
That can take a toll on pitching, but thanks to sophomore Elijah Potts’ heroic relief effort, it won’t take a huge toll on Kossuth. Potts threw 103 pitches in 61⁄3 innings of relief and was awarded the win.
“That’s the most pitches he’s thrown all year,” said Kossuth coach Trave Hopkins. “He’s usually our sixth-, seventh-inning guy. I never thought he’d be our sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th. But he’s had a lot of heart all year and he showed it.”
Kossuth started senior Tyler Mercer, who went 42⁄3 innings. Mercer and Potts have thrown the most innings this season, but Hopkins said the lengthy game and distance Potts unexpectedly went won’t alter his plans for today’s 1 p.m. Game 2.
“We’ve still got three guys we can come in with,” Hopkins said. “Potts did a good job of saving our arms.”
One of those is freshman Nikolas Wilcher. Wilcher has thrown only 171⁄3 innings in seven appearances, but is already being talked about as a future stud. He’ll get his chance on a big stage, with a shot at helping Kossuth sweep baseball power Sumrall for a second straight season.
Sumrall went through three pitchers, including its two most-used arms. Nick Clark threw 61⁄3 innings and Alex Knight threw four. The two also entered the game with the two lowest ERAs. Sumrall coach Larry Knight said Clark, Wednesday’s starter, won’t be available after throwing 104 pitches in a loss.
“We’re pretty deep on the mound. We’ve got a lot of guys that can throw,” he said. “We should be fine. Alex could come back in relief if needed. We’ve got a few other guys that can do well.”