By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
FLOWOOD – Game 2 of Tupelo’s MHSAA Class 6A state quarterfinals best-of-three series against Northwest Rankin is ancient history.
At least that’s the Golden Wave’s take on Saturday’s 10-0 six-inning loss to the Cougars at Scarbrough Field.
“We’ve already flipped the page,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said. “We’re 1-1. We like our chances at our place.”
Northwest Rankin (25-4) visits Tupelo (27-3) Monday for a 6 p.m. Game 3. The Golden Wave won the series opener, 3-2, Friday in Tupelo.
Saturday belonged to the host Cougars. They got a two-hitter from right-hander Reid Humphreys (8-3) and rocked Tupelo pitching for 17 hits, including a 4-for-4 day by first baseman Cody Livingston.
One of the Golden Wave pitchers was left-handed starter J.D. Roberts (8-1), who was previously unbeaten. He gave up 12 of the Cougars’ hits.
“Never had one like that,” Roberts said of his afternoon on the mound. “I left the ball up high and didn’t keep it low.”
In Friday’s win, Northwest Rankin managed just five hits off Wave starter Ben Hudspeth.
“We’re not the best hitting team, but today we were,” Cougars coach Jeff McClaskey said. “We came to play. We happened to swing it today and got ahead of them.
“That’s baseball. Tupelo’s better than that. We know that. They’ll be mad Monday like we were today.”
Northwest Rankin scored four runs in the first, three in the second and two in the third to build a 9-0 lead. Livingston, the losing pitcher in Game 1, drove in three of the runs with a single and a double.
“This is a tough place to play against a good team,” Enis said. “We showed up flat and played flat.”
The Cougars scored the game-clinching run in the sixth on a steal and throwing error.
Hudspeth was the only starter for Tupelo with a base hit. Bryden Owen, who relieved Roberts, also had a single off Humphreys, who recorded eight strikeouts.
“(Humphreys) threw well today,” McClaskey said. “He threw a bunch of strikes. It’s easy to pitch when you have a big lead.”