FULTON – In a tremendous pitchers’ duel, it was Wes Stokes and his West Lauderdale teammates emerging the winners on Monday night.
The Knights eliminated the Indians from the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs with Monday’s 1-0 victory at Itawamba.
Stokes (8-2) struck out 10 while holding the Indians to just four hits.
Luke Hargett (4-5) gave up one run on six hits and struck out five in the loss. “He just one-upped me,” Hargett said.
Both Hargett and Stokes got help from their defense in the early going.
In the bottom of the second, the Indians had a chance to take the lead with the bases loaded, but with two outs Stokes coaxed a ground ball from Bubba Mendoza.
Hargett got two quick outs in the top of the third, but Dustin James single kept the inning alive for Dustin McWilliams.
McWilliams hit a double down the left field line, driving in James from first.
The Indians had a chance to tie it in the fourth inning with a runner at third with two outs. Shante Rogers hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield that was fielded by second baseman Mikeal Evans.
The first baseman was pulled off the bag and Stokes rushed over to cover first and picked up the final out of the inning on a bang-bang play.
The Indians had another chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Stokes struck out the first two Indian batters but Devin Moore stepped up and hit a single to keep the inning alive.
Dillon Mitchell walked, putting the tying run at second for Trevor Wallace.
Wallace saved the Indians’ season with a two run homer in the seventh inning against Oxford in a second-round series, but Stokes struck out Wallace out to end the game.
“It’s tough,” said IAHS Head Coach Brian Long. “These last three weeks have been special. These guys did a tremendous job in this series but we just came up one run short.”
Lee Adams/The Itawamba County Times