GLEN – Alcorn Central coach Jeff Wood was highly impressed with Ripley starting pitcher Jonathan Morrison. How impressed was he?
“He could have beaten any 3A team in the state tonight,” Wood said after watching Morrison strike out 13 Golden Bears in a 7-1 Ripley victory on Friday night. “That was the best I’ve seen him. He was really, really good tonight.”
Game 2 of the best-of-three Class 3A quarterfinal series is today in Ripley at 5 p.m.
In Friday’s victory, Morrison (7-1) allowed only three hits – two of which were infield singles – and walked two in the complete-game victory. The only run he gave up came in the seventh on Dustin Sparks’ RBI groundout.
“Morrison’s a winner, that’s all you can say about him,” Ripley centerfielder Austin Hamilton. “He doesn’t complain and sets the tone every game.”
Hamilton helped Morrison set the tone, when the sophomore took the fifth pitch of the game over the left field fence for an early 1-0 advantage.
Two innings later, Hamilton repeated his first inning at bat with his second solo shot of the game, his third homer of the season, to increase the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.
“He’s been struggling at the plate, but he’s been working all week,” Ripley coach Joel Gafford said of Hamilton, who finished with three hits on the night, “Obviously, hard work paid off tonight.”
Ripley opened the floodgates in the final two innings, scoring five runs off Golden Bear (24-6) starter Justin Sparks (9-2) and reliever Hunter Shaw.
Back-to-back doubles by Zack Jones and Morrison led to Ripley’s third run in the sixth inning. An RBI single by Austin Reed and a double by Josh Martin, both with two outs, extended the Tigers’ lead to 5-0 after the sixth.
Ripley (19-9) put the game out of reach in the seventh when Hamilton and courtesy runner John Austin Moore scored on wild pitches.
Blake Long/Special to the Journal