By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
HERNANDO – Southpaws and Saltillo do not mix.
The Tigers, facing their third left-handed pitcher in three days, dropped an 8-2 decision Saturday to Hernando in the deciding third game of their MHSAA Class 5A second-round playoff series.
Caleb Goff went the distance for Hernando (21-7), striking out four and scattering six hits to earn the win.
“In high school it’s unusual to see that many left-handers,” Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen said. “I think they have four left-handers. They did a good job.”
The loss ended the season for Saltillo (18-14), which extended the series Friday with a 2-1 victory at home. Hernando won the series opener, 6-1, here on Thursday night.
“I’m proud of my guys, they competed and we had a good season,” Bolen noted.
Hernando’s Goff (7-2) got plenty of support from his offense and his defense. The black and gold Tigers collected 12 hits against Saltillo pitching.
“He threw strikes; that’s what you want in Game 3 situations,” Hernando coach David Lara said of his pitcher. “We’ve got three left-handed pitchers we used in this series. All three did a good job.
“We were able to play good defense behind them and scratch out a few runs.”
Next up for Hernando is a best-of-three state quarterfinals series this week against Oxford. The Chargers eliminated Ridgeland in two games in their second-round series.
“Oxford put us out in the second round last season,” Lara said. “We want to at least have a good showing and go as far as we can.”
Josh Brown gave Hernando a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single off Saltillo starter Cosby Repult (6-6).
Saltillo answered in the top of the third to go ahead 2-1 when leadoff batter Kyle Young hit a two-run homer off Goff. He plated Hunter Harlow, who had singled.
“We had been hitting the ball well, but we struggled this series,” Bolen said.
Caleb Gowen had two RBI and Josh Brown one in Hernando’s three-run third inning.
The home team took a 6-2 lead in the fourth on a two-run homer by Drew Rutledge off Saltillo reliever Blake Wiggington.
Tim Rowe had an RBI double and Stuart Chick an RBI single for Hernando in the fifth and sixth innings.