TUPELO – The Division 2-6A baseball championship will be decided tonight … in Hernando.
That’s not exactly the scenario Tupelo coach Gary Enis was hoping for. His Golden Wave could have clinched the title at home Tuesday, but instead lost 5-0 to the visiting Hernando Tigers.
“This puts the pressure on; it comes down to one game,” Enis said. “They’re playing at home and we’re on the road.
“We’ve got to come in more focused and determined to win.”
Tupelo (17-6 overall, 5-3 division) and Hernando (15-8, 6-2) play at 6 p.m. The series between the two teams is tied at 1-1. Today’s game was postponed Monday because of rain.
“This will be the deciding third game,” said an excited Hernando coach Dave Lara, whose program moved up from 5A this year. “This is what both teams have been playing for all year. It’s going to be a good game.”
Hernando took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning and sealed the victory with four runs, three on a two-out double to center field by No. 9 batter Caleb Wilcke.
“He’s been pretty successful with runners on base,” Lara said of Wilcke, the Tigers’ right fielder. “He battles and battles.”
Wilcke’s double was one of six hits off Tupelo left-hander Hudson Roy (4-1), who suffered his first loss. Roy recorded seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Hernando starter, right-hander Ian Painter (4-0), fired a three-hitter and recorded six strikeouts. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with a strikeout of Michael Ray.
“Ian has pitched well all year,” Lara said. “He gives us a chance. He throws strikes and we play good defense behind him.”
The Golden Wave had two runners on in the second with two out, but Painter escaped with a strikeout.
“We couldn’t get the big two-out hit and they got one early,” Enis said, referring to Painter’s two-out RBI single in the second to give Hernando its 1-0 lead.