By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – Pontotoc High rallied from a 3-0 deficit, outlasted Lewisburg’s ace and escaped a couple of late jams.
But it wasn’t enough on Monday night to salvage a win and a berth in the MHSAA Class 4A baseball semifinals.
Tanner Densford, who started the game on the mound for Lewisburg, drove in the winning run in the top of the 12th to give the visiting Patriots a 7-6 Game 3 quarterfinals-series-clinching victory.
“We’re disappointed, obviously,” said Pontotoc coach Phil Webb, whose team ended its season at 24-7. … “They’re (Lewisburg) a good team and take nothing away from them.”
The Patriots jumped on top 3-0 in the first inning thanks to some aggressive base running. Pontotoc would tie the game at 3-all in the bottom of the second as Lawrence Rakestraw hit a two-run homer to right center and Jon Michael Hannon had an RBI single to right.
The Warriors then took the lead in the third on a full-count single to left by Rakestraw and a safety squeeze by Ethan Gill. Pontotoc chased Densford from the game with one out in the inning.
The Patriots would add a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead.
With hard-throwing Aaron Greenwood on the bump – the senior can throw up to 92 miles per hour – Pontotoc hitters would fan six consecutive times before Blake Littlejohn homered to tie the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth.
Both teams wouldn’t score again for the next six innings despite having ample opportunities to do so.
Pontotoc starter Blake O’Callagan didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings he pitched on the night and Greenwood struck out five with his fastball reaching 89 MPH in the last two innings he threw.
Kaleb Kennedy and Aaron Smith went the rest of the way for Pontotoc and Lewisburg, respectively.
“We had our chances,” Webb said. “We squandered them away a couple of times.”
Lewisburg advanced to play Amory in a best-of-three semifinals series set to begin this Thursday.