By Brandon Speck
MYRTLE – The fight started in fold-up chairs and ended with Derrick Hathcock’s bat.
Myrtle’s game-long lead wasn’t long enough as Smithville scored a pair in the top of the seventh inning, the winning RBI single for Hathcock in a 6-5 win in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 1A quarterfinals.
“We were down pretty much the whole game,” Smithville coach Steve Kerr said. “But at no point ever did they think that we were going to lose this game.”
Smithville has a chance to close the series tonight at home at 7.
Fireworks came early. Administrators from both teams rushed to the seats behind home plate to break up what fans said was an escalating altercation.
Smithville (24-7) had to keep fighting. Myrtle led 4-1 after the third inning after Zack Perkins’ two-run homer.
Down 5-4 in the seventh, Smithville leadoff hitter Tyler Hood reached on one of three Myrtle errors. Austin Craig’s RBI single tied it with one out.
“We just didn’t make a play that I thought would have been a routine play that opened up the floodgates for them,” Myrtle coach Robert Gordon said.
The Hawks (22-6) hit three home runs, from both Brandon Perkins and Zack Perkins and one from losing pitcher Colt Smith.
There was plenty of drama on the field, too. Smithville appeared to have tied it at four in the fifth, but what would have been Blake Comer’s three-run double was changed to a two-run double when one run was scratched because third base wasn’t touched.
Smith’s home run made it 5-4. Tied in the seventh with two outs and runners at first and third thanks in part to a wild pitch, Wesley Grier scored on Hathcock’s hit.
Hood came on for a 1-2-3 close for winner Micah McCain.
The drama didn’t stop after the game. Brandon Perkins was tossed near home plate after Smith popped up to end the game. Gordon was unsure if he would be available today.
Catcher Zach Perkins threw out three runners Friday and made two plays at the plate.