By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
It is technically the first round of the 2013 MHSAA state baseball playoffs, but Amory and Houston probably feel like they’re prepping for a North finals series.
The two 4A contenders will play a best-of-three series beginning tonight in Amory to determine who goes on and who goes home as playoff baseball hits full steam.
“If they’re the No. 3 from their division, I don’t know if anybody wants to run up against No. 1,” Amory coach Chad Williams said. “They have a very good lineup and Coach (Scott) Gann does a good job with them.”
Houston had to beat Yazoo County twice to advance past the play-in round. Amory won its division and earned a bye but played four games to avoid the long layoff. It’s a perfect matchup on paper. Houston won the only regular-season matchup, 5-3 at the Saltillo Tournament. Amory has home field, its only loss there against Oxford Saturday.
Gann said he thinks the series may be more lost than won.
“They’re going to swing it pretty good and have really good pitching at the top,” Gann said. “Hopefully we’ll be getting to their bullpen. I think that will kind of be the key, which one hits the other’s pitching better and who makes the big mistake at the right time.”
Both have readily equipped pitching, Amory (23-5) with Tanner Poole and Destin Hahn, both Itawamba CC signees with sub-1.00 ERAs. Hahn is 6-1 with a 0.43. Poole is 5-3 with a 0.55 ERA.
Houston (22-4) throws Peyton Callahan (Mississippi Delta) and Kyle Wilson at the top of the rotation. Wilson sports a 1.04 ERA and is 7-1. Callahan is 5-2 with a 2.00.
“What scares me is when we played them before, different guys and different pinch hitters stepped up,” Williams said. “I think both teams are similar. Throughout our season, different people have stepped up for us.”
Amory has three players hitting over .300, led by Poole’s .359 and 27 RBIs and Hayden Williams at .356. Chad Williams says Amory’s bats have started to come around of late.
Houston hits .311 as a team, led by Austin Burdine’s .416 clip. The Toppers aren’t afraid to run either. Four players have double- digit stolen bases, led by Callahan’s 13 of 13 mark. Blake Johns has stolen 16 in 17 attempts.