By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
JACKSON – Russ Johnson needed little extra practice time to conclude his high school baseball career with two excellent performances in an all-star contest.
The Hatley native earned MVP honors for the second straight weekend on Saturday, but his North team lost 4-1 in 10 innings to the South at the D.M. Howie Crossroads Diamond Club Class 1A/2A/3A all-star game.
Johnson started at shortstop and used the turf surface of Smith-Wills Stadium to his advantage to start his second double play in as many games.
“This was a little bit different with turf, but I really liked it,” he said. “The ball took pretty good hops and then I just stayed focused.”
The ICC signee also added two hits and scored the North’s lone run on a groundout by East Union’s Dustin Pratt.
Drew Carter of TCPS began eight straight dominant frames by North pitchers. East Union’s Cody Bo Dillard, Alcorn Central’s Hunter Bronson, Ingomar’s Tyler Dowdy and Johnson combined to down 10 batters in a row at one point.
“Honestly, I think we had a better pitching staff,” said Bronson. “We just tried to throw it in there and let them see if they could hit it.”
North batters squandered multiple opportunities to score and left 12 runners on base, 9 of those in scoring position.
Sumrall’s Will Simon was named South MVP after throwing a scoreless ninth inning to earn the win. He also added a RBI double in the decisive three-run tenth off Kossuth’s Josh Whitaker, who took the loss.
North 9, South 4: Tupelo’s J.G. Miley earned North MVP honors by doubling and scoring three runs in the 4A/5A/6A game. He also stole home easily in the third inning.
Miley took the idea from Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. The two share the same No. 42 jersey.
“I watched the movie ‘42’ lately, and Jackie did it so why not do it on a big stage,” said Miley, who celebrated the feat with a backflip in front of the first base dugout. “It was one of the best days I’ve had in a while that’s for sure.”