East Union Urchins go young in series opener

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

PEARL – Taylorsville scored five runs in the second inning of Wednesday’s MHSAA Class 2A championship opener against East Union.
Only one ball left the infield, but it was enough to start a 12-1 win for the Tartars in Game 1 of the best-of-three series at Trustmark Park.
East Union, its pitching depleted after a rain-delayed North finals series, put freshman Witt Roaton on the mound and threw four pitchers in the loss, two more freshmen and eighth-grader Drew Edwards. Urchins coach Chris Basil saw it as a positive. Cody Bo Dillard will start Game 2, Friday at 10:30 a.m.
“The good thing is we pitched eighth and ninth graders. We’re gonna go back with one of our number ones,” Basil said. “With them out there, it gives the other kids a lot of confidence. We look forward to the matchup.”
Pitchers are limited to 17 innings Sunday through Saturday, meaning the Urchins’ top two pitchers, Dillard (10 innings left) and Austin Sanders (11), are being used carefully.
A play here or there and Roaton’s result may have been different. The lefty struck out the first two of the second inning before walking two. A bloop infield single loaded the bases and Carr McMorris drove in a pair. A wild pitch scored another before a dropped popup at first base allowed two more to score.
Roaton threw 52⁄3 with five strikeouts and seven walks, five earned runs on six hits.
“He did a tremendous job. We couldn’t have asked anything more of Witt,” Basil said. “His future is so bright.”
East Union (22-15) had its chances against Taylorsville’s Sam Walley, who neared 90 mph with his pitches, stranding two runners in the third and fourth and ending the fifth with a caught stealing.
“We need to hit the ball a little bit better. Our defense was good,” Roaton said. “We kind of missed it in the sun. If we maintain that, we’ll be good.”
Dustin Pratt had three of the Urchins’ six singles, with an RBI in the seventh.
Taylorsville (29-4) added two runs on Brody Bray’s triple in the sixth and five more in the seventh.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com