By Gene Phelps
PEARL – Not long ago, Drew Lann experienced the heartbreak of losing in a championship game.
That made Thursday a whole lot sweeter for the Smithville senior, who pitched and helped lead his Seminoles to a 6-2 victory against Natchez Cathedral and to the MHSAA Class 1A state championship in baseball.
“Losing in football gave us the mentality that we didn’t want to lose this one,” said Lann, who quarterbacked the Seminoles in their football championship loss to French Camp in December. “I hate the way (football) ended. This is great.”
Smithville (29-8) swept the championship series at Trustmark Park in two games and beat Cathedral’s top pitcher, Thomas Garrity, in the process. The Seminoles won the series opener 6-1 on Wednesday.
Garrity (9-2) limited Smithville to four hits, but all were costly. Two of the biggest came in the Seminoles’ four-run fourth inning.
Tyler Hood had a two-run double and Blake Comer a two-run single that gave Smithville a comfortable 6-0 lead.
“It’s amazing to get a double in the championship game,” said Hood, who was Game 1’s winning pitcher.
The Seminoles scored twice in the third on a single by Hood and a sacrifice fly by Austin Craig.
Lann on the mound
Cathedral (23-8) was held to six hits by Lann, who pitched five stong innings, and his reliever, Comer, who was scheduled to start Game 3 on Saturday if it was needed.
“Early on (Lann) got behind in the count, but he battled,” Smithville third-year coach Steve Kerr said.
“The kids made the plays for him. We just played good defense.”
Smithville’s defense made two double plays – one in the third inning and the other in the sixth.
Cathedral scored two runs in the sixth, but the double play started by Hood with a leaping grab of a line drive at second was crucial to exiting the inning.
“We stress to know where your runners are,” Kerr said. “Play where you’re supposed to be. Play the game … not watch the game.”
Lann (6-3), who didn’t know he was pitching Game 2 until Thursday morning, said having a great defense makes a pitcher’s job easier.
“You don’t have to do a whole lot of pitching with the defense we have. I know they’ll back me up,” he said.