By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
AMORY – Amory five-hitter John Randle’s two-strike grand slam in the first inning was big at the time in Game 1 of the 2010 Class 4A state quarterfinals match between Amory and Lafayette.
It was even bigger by the time Will Cox (12-0) struck out four of the final five Lafayette batters in Amory’s 5-3 win Friday night.
Game 2 is tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Lafayette.
Zack Randolph, Justin Rone and Cox singled against Lafayette starter Jarrett Patton to open the first inning. Pinch runner Daniel Simpson scored on a wild pitch and after Drew Pickle walked to reload the bases, Randle sent a shot 360-plus feet to dead center to put Amory (24-4) ahead 5-0.
“He had two strikes on him and I thought he did a good job of shortening up and the ball jumped out of here,” Amory coach Chad Williams said.
Patton seemed to settle in after Randle’s damaging blast. He scattered four hits over the final five innings.
The Commodores (17-12) got a home run of their own from leadoff man Luke McCullough in the third inning to pull within 5-2 and scored again in the fourth to get within 5-3. John Jeffery Nelson reached on one of three Amory errors to open the inning and scored on Tyler Mize’s sac fly.
Lafayette missed on a chance to get within a run in the fifth. Luke Stanley, who had two of the team’s five hits, raced home from third on a called steal, but Amory catcher Zack Randolph dangerously got up from behind the plate to make the tag.
Hunter Robinson reached on an error to lead off the sixth for Lafayette, but Cox (12-0) retired six straight to end the game, striking out four of them. He had nine for the game.
Patton (5-1) struck out four in his first loss of the season.
“You’ve got to give him credit,” Lafayette coach Greg Lewis said. “He settled in and did a great job. It looked like he gained more speed and he got his split working a little bit. That got him some groundballs.”
The Dores stranded Robinson at third in the sixth. A ball thrown into right field sent him to third on what should have been a routine groundout, but Cox got a groundout and two strikeouts to save the run.
Lafayette helped Patton out of a third-inning jam. Amory had runners on first and second, but Randle was caught in a rundown. Amory had runners at first and second in the second inning too, but came away empty when Patton got a groundout to end it.
Randle went 3 for 3 and Cox had two of Amory’s eight hits.
“I thought it was a popup,” Randle said of his grand slam, “but going around first base, I saw the centerfielder turn around so I knew it was a home run. I couldn’t do anything but be happy.”