Bishop’s glove, Cristo’s bat prove crucial

BOONEVILLE – T.D. Bishop worked his way into Booneville’s starting lineup with his productive bat.
Saturday, in the Blue Devils’ 4-3 Class 3A state playoff series-clinching win against Independence, the sophomore outfielder made some noise when he started a heads-up defensive play.
Trailing 4-2 in the fourth inning, the visitors to Harold T. White Field had runners at first and second with two out when Kile Blount singled to Bishop’s spot in left field.
Nolan Shackleford, the Wildcats’ runner at second, raced around third and headed home only to be cut down at the plate on Bishop’s heave to third baseman Tre Welch, who quickly fired a strike to catcher Corey McPhail.
“I saw (Shackleford) going home and I busted my tail to get to the ball,” Bishop said. “I knew we’d get the guy out. That’s how much faith I have in my teammates.”
Booneville coach Bo Sandlin said Bishop had only “spot played” before Saturday’s game.
“This team has a lot of guys who’ve accepted their role,” the coach said. “T.D. has played catcher and hit here and there. He’s worked really hard in practice. He’s a good example of the kids we’ve got on this team.”

Getting the big hits
Bishop also produced with his bat, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, but the day’s biggest hit was shortstop Drew Cristo’s two-run double in the second inning.
“Today, Drew had the big hit for us,” Sandlin said. “Somebody’s always stepping up. We’ve played in a lot of different type games and our guys seem to find a way to win.”
Booneville won Game 1 of the series, 3-0, Friday at Independence. The Blue Devils, now 19-4-2, will play the South Pontotoc in this week’s second round.
Independence took a 2-0 lead in the first on a triple by Zack Pickett and a fielder’s choice ground ball by Dustin Johnson off Booneville right-hander Hunter Maness.
The Devils answered with a two-run first when Welch doubled and Cristo singled. Welch scored on an error and Cristo on a single by Jake Scott.
The visitors scored in the seventh on a two-out double by Dustin Johnson, but Maness escaped with the win on a groundout by Heath Massey.
“I’m proud of the way (Massey) fought and stayed with it,” Sandlin said. “He usually throws more strikes, but he was struggling with his stuff.”

Gene Phelps/Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio