By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
JACKSON – Kossuth starting pitcher Tyler Nelms felt the strike zone was a little tight in Game 1 of the Class 3A championship series.
“Something was wrong with them (close pitches),” he said. “I was throwing it right down the coffee can for them.”
Southeast Lauderdale took advantage of that with two big innings in their 7-1 victory, ruining the Aggies’ first game in school history at the MHSAA Baseball Championships.
Kossuth will try to avoid a sweep in Game 2 of the series, which is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers, meanwhile, will go for their first state title since the mid 1960’s.
“We’re a spot pitching team, and we just didn’t get the calls on the corners of the plate today,” Kossuth coach Daniel Threadgill said. “That’s baseball and that’s the way it is.”
Ten of the Tigers’ 11 hits came in the third and fifth innings, when Southeast Lauderdale (31-6) scored all its runs.
Cody Shirley and Hunter Thrower sandwiched singles around a strikeout to start the bottom of the third. Shirley scored on Gage Hagan’s sacrifice fly after both runners advanced on a passed ball to put the Tigers up 1-0.
Two straight extra base hits with two outs extended Southeast Lauderdale’s lead. LeDarius Clark knocked a standup triple in the gap and then came home a batter later on Mason Irby’s opposite field double for a 3-0 advantage.
Jordan Brawner collected his second outfield putout in as many games, gunning Irby at the plate on Blake McMullen’s single to end the frame.
The Aggies (24-7) got on the board in the fifth when Dylan Rider’s sharp grounder went off Southeast Lauderdale starter Colby Ramey’s foot, scoring David Gibson and cutting their deficit to 3-1.
However, a four-run bottom half for the Tigers stole Kossuth’s momentum and chased Nelms (8-2). McMullen’s two-run single was followed by Matt Miller’s double that scored two more runs to make it 7-1.
John Mitchell relieved Nelms and retired all four batters he faced, three by strikeout.
“Different guys came through at times,” Tigers coach Shay Cooper said. “There’s been a lot of people contribute to our success. I can’t say enough about the whole lineup.”
Ramey (9-2) tossed a complete game, allowing five hits and inducing fly balls in spacious Smith-Wills Stadium.
Cooper said his plans were to start Clark in Game 2 Saturday, while Threadgill will stick with Gibson as his starter.