By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
SMITHVILLE – Down two runs going into the bottom of the seventh inning on Saturday, Smithville’s Seminoles were ready to fight back as they had done several times already in this postseason.
Drew Lann’s single and advance to second on a wild pitch with one out started a potential rally, but Greenville St. Joe starter Raines Rester retired the last two batters he faced to finish off the 4-2 win and a series sweep.
St. Joe (18-1) will move on to the North championship series and face the winner of the West Union-Tupelo Christian Prep, which concludes with Game 3 on Monday.
“I don’t know if people thought we weren’t going to do very well, with everything that’s happened over the last year,” said Smithville first-year coach Steve Kerr, whose team finuihed 14-17. “You can’t put into words what’s in the hearts of boys when they want to play. Our kids have just played hard all season and done everything we’ve asked them to.”
St. Joe got on the board in the first with Smithville starting pitcher Brady Thompson walking leadoff man J’Dalyn Jackson. Jackson was erased on Brandon McTeer’s fielder’s choice, and then Arrington Smith put the first two runs on the board with his two-run homer to right.
St. Joe added another two runs in the top of the third when Rester helped his cause with a two-run home run of his own.
Tyler Hood’s double in the bottom half of the inning put the Seminoles down two runs, and both starting pitchers didn’t allow a run for the rest of the game. Smithville threatened in the fourth when Turner Sanderson and Austin Craig opened the inning with back-to-back singles, but Rester retired the next three straight.
“This just wasn’t our day,” Kerr said. “We didn’t make some plays that we should have, and they’re a good team. Give them their credit. We had chances in both games, and we just didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
Kerr said he looks forward to the experience returning to his team next year, but the leadership of lone senior Landon Carter would be greatly missed.
“He’s been the heartbeat of our team,” Kerr said. “We are going to miss him tremendously. I know just from the leadership and character the player that he’s going to be. I wish someone would give him a chance to play college ball.”