SOUTH PONTOTOC REACHES CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

CATEGORY: Baseball

AUTHOR: TALBER

SOUTH PONTOTOC REACHES CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

By Mike Talbert

Daily Journal

SPRINGVILLE South Pontotoc’s Shane Davis hit a strike three foul to keep the seventh inning alive.

Then he watched four straight near misses by Mooreville southpaw Daniel McKinney and drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run. The Cougar’s 9-8 win earned them their first berth in the Class 2A championship series.

“I thought that was one of the finest high school at-bats I have seen,” South Pontotoc coach Steve Lyles said. “That is the kind of pressure situation that got us here.”

It was a game that the Troopers (24-11) had to win to avoid a sweep in the the North Mississippi semifinal series. They didn’t go out easy as the lead changed hands five times.

“There is nothing like it. It was up and down all day like a magic roller coaster ride,” Lyles said.

South Pontotoc will open the best-of-three state championship series by hosting Seminary (26-7). Seminary advanced by taking two of three from Taylorsville (23-9). The series shifts to Seminary for Game 2 at 1 p.m. Saturday. Game 3, if needed, will immediately follow.

Mooreville took the South Pontotoc running game away from the Cougars. The only stolen base of the game was credited to the Troopers.

South Pontotoc turned to a power game, with the two top bunters picking up rare home runs. Starting pitcher Chance Austin hit his first homer of the season in the fourth inning and Daniel Craig hit a two-run homer to cap off a four-run fifth.

That inning was keyed by an RBI triple on a pitchout by Chad Washington (3-for-3), who scored two runs, including the game winner.

“It was a hit-and-run, and coach tells us to always protect the runner,” Washington said. “I saw the pitchout and I went with it. I thought it was going foul the way it curved.”

An error allowed Washington to score and led to three of the five unearned runs South Pontotoc scored.

Mooreville outhit South Pontotoc 12-9. Daniel McKinney hit a two-run double in the fourth, Eric Baker a two-run single in the sixth and losing pitcher Rhasheen Dilworth (9-4) hit a two-run double in the top of the seventh. That hit gave the Troopers an 8-7 lead as Cougar ace Sonny Holcomb (14-1) seemed to blow a save in his second subpar game against Mooreville. Instead he got his second win.

In the bottom of the inning, Dilworth gave up a walk and two hits to tie the game. McKinney came in and got a ground-out and a play at the plate, but a pair of full-count walks decided the game.

Mooreville coach Rex Berryman was unhappy about the unearned runs that cost the Troopers both games of the series, but he added:

“I am very proud of this team. For the ability they have, they might have got a lot further than a lot of other teams.”

Game Summary

South Pontotoc 9, Mooreville 8

Mooreville 101 202 2 8 12 3

South Pontotoc 200 140 1 9 9 1

WP – Sonny Holcomb. LP – Rhasheen Dilworth. Multiple hits – (M) Jason McMillan 2, Daniel McKinney 2, Ian Foster 3, Rhasheen Dilworth 3; (S) Holcomb 2, Chad Washington 3, Grant Stegall 2. 2B – (M) McKinney, Dilworth. 3B – (S) Washington. HR – (S) Chance Austin (1), Daniel Craig (2). Records: Mooreville 24-11, South Pontotoc 29-8.

Notes: South Pontotoc swept the North Mississippi semifinal round in two games and advances to the Class 2A state championship series hosting the winner of the Seminary-Taylorsville series at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Click video to hear audio