By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
SMITHVILLE – The Smithville Seminoles haven’t been on their new baseball field long after it had to be rebuilt in the aftermath of last spring’s EF5 tornado. But after advancing to the second round of the Class 1A baseball playoffs, they’ll get more time to get comfortable.
Saturday, the Seminoles swept the defending North 1A champion Falkner Eagles to advance in the MHSAA State Baseball playoffs. They start a best-of-three series with Ingomar Falcons on Thursday.
“It’s something that we wanted to do, something the boys have worked hard for,” said first-year Smithville coach Steve Kerr. “With all the adversity in the past year – we start practice and we didn’t have a place to go – it’s just very emotional to see how they’ve improved over the year.”
Against Falkner, the Seminoles (12-13) won a resumed Game 1, 8-1 Saturday morning in Smithville. Rains halted the game, which started Friday in Falkner, with Smithville batting with a 6-0 lead in the top of the third. The field was unplayable in Falkner.
Smithville jumped on Falkner (15-11) early in Game 2 and eventually won 11-2 to take the series. In the second inning, starting pitcher Brady Thompson and Turner Sanderson drew walks and Derrick Hathcock reached on an infield hit, before Drew Lann delivered a 2-run single. That was followed by a Tyler Hood fielder’s choice that scored Hathcock and Smithville led 3-0.
Thompson started the home half of the third with a single and scored one of five runs to push Smithville’s lead to 8-2. They had just two hits in the frame, but three Falkner errors aided their effort. The Seminoles totaled eight hits, six on starter Wesley Murphy.
The Eagles mustered just six hits against Thompson, who had a busy day. The junior right-hander fanned nine batters. At the plate, he collected three hits – including a double – stole a base and scored four times.
“It all goes to God,” said Thompson of his day. “I knew I had a good defense behind me so I just threw the ball and I just tried to do what my coach told me at the plate.”
Falkner coach Chip Johnson coached his final game in an Eagle uniform as he announced his retirement last week. He said he’s proud of the run his team made to make the playoffs, but the magic just ran out.
“We went 8-2 over our last 10 games to make it in so there’s nothing to be down about,” said Johnson. We just didn’t hit the ball and Smithville is a good ballclub.”