By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
SMITHVILLE – Upset at home in Game 1 Thursday, Smithville rallied for a Game 2 12-4 win in stormy Wheeler on Friday.
Tuesday night in Smithville, the Seminoles avenged the home loss to the Eagles and advanced to the state quarterfinals with an 11-6 win in Game 3 of the Class 1A opening round playoff series.
The Seminoles will now play Ingomar, a 5-3 winner over Greenville-St. Joseph.
Wheeler’s bad breaks started early, as ace Brandon Woodruff had a “flare-up” in his injured shoulder and surrendered six runs to the host in the first inning.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious, but he just didn’t have his stuff tonight,” Wheeler coach James Shaw said. “These guys have impressed me all year. They’ve never dropped their heads.”
Tyler Jackson walked and scored the first run on one of two errors in the inning. Zack Stephenson doubled in Kyle Jackson, who threw the complete-game win. Austin Loden doubled in Stephenson. Bud Cox’s RBI single made it 4-0 and the Seminoles (14-7) made it 6-0 when Cox scored on an error and Brady Thompson drove a run home on a fielder’s choice.
“Those six runs were huge,” Smithville coach Jordan Summerford said. “We knocked the wind out of them early and they just never did get back in it. If we don’t score those six runs, it’s a tie game.”
Behind reliever Anthony Moore, Wheeler (13-11-1) battled back, pulling within 6-3 in the second.
Cody Edge drove in two runs with an RBI single and Moore’s groundout scored Hunter McGee.
Smithville added on in the third, scoring three times, twice on RBI singles from Taylor Phillips and Tyler Jackson. Jackson had three of Smithville’s 13 hits.
Wheeler climbed within three again in the fifth behind RBI singles from Woodruff and Jacob Moore, but the Seminoles padded the 9-6 lead with Loden’s RBI single and Cox’s RBI groundout to score Steve Adams in the sixth.
“We’ve gotten better game by game,” Summerford said. “Kyle threw less than 75 pitches in seven innings. He did a great job.”