By Gene Phelps
BELDEN – There’s no time left in the season for “coulda, woulda, shoulda” in the baseball camps of Tupelo Christian Prep and Smithville.
Today, the Division 4 rivals play a winner-take-all Game 3 in their MHSAA Class 1A state semifinals series at 4:30 p.m. today in Smithville. At stake, a first-ever trip for either program to Trustmark Park in Pearl for the state championship series.
TCPS took Game 1, 3-1, Thursday at Smithville.
The Seminoles returned the favor in Game 2 on Friday, rallying to win 5-4, on the Eagles’ field.
“We were holding nothing back today,” Smithville coach Steve Kerr said. “We knew it was time to show up if we wanted it to go three.”
TCPS coach Will Lowrey is confident his players are ready for a Game 3 showdown.
“Our guys have a good mindset,” he said. “Smithville has the momentum back and they’re at home. We’ve played well on the road … I think we’re more focused.”
Smithville (26-9) scored its winning run in the top of the seventh when Cole Williams raced home from third base on a wild pitch.
The Seminoles tied the score at 4-4 in the fifth on RBI singles from Blake Comer and Drew Lann. It was Lann’s two-out single to left that tied the score.
“Drew’s capable of doing that,” Kerr said. “We expected him to do that. He’s a senior, the quarterback in football. He doesn’t rattle.”
TCPS (17-11) scored four runs in the second inning off four singles by A.J. Bratton, Andrew Lipscomb, Devin Orr and Logan Johnson.
The Eagles also picked up an RBI from standout lead-off batter J.G. Lipscomb, who was intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
“We had no intention of pitching to him,” Kerr said, then smiled. “He’s a kid who with one swing can end it. He’s the best player in 1A in North Mississippi. He has speed, can pitch and hit.”
Smithville got a solid relief performance on the mound from Tyler Hood, who held the Eagles scoreless the final four innings.