By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – The key to beating Columbus in baseball is stopping the Falcons’ quarterback.
That’s how Tupelo coach Gary Enis characterized Columbus pitcher Trace Lee when he talked to his ballclub about the talented right-hander ollowing Monday’s practice.
“He’s the quarterback of their team … their leader,” Enis said. “We’ve got to jump on him.”
The teams – Tupelo (22-8) and Columbus (23-6) – who play at 6 p.m. Friday in Tupelo in an MHSAA Class 6A best-of-three state quarterfinals series, didn’t play this season. However, many of the Golden Wave players are familiar with Lee’s work on the mound.
His go-to pitch is the slider. “He throws it 80 percent of the time … and it’s a good one,” Wave pitcher/infielder Hudson Roy said. “You’ve got to know it’s coming and adjust.”
Lee is also a fast worker on the mound. “He tries to control the pace of the game,” Roy noted. “As a hitter, you’ve got to step out of the box.”
Lee’s pitching performance at Golden Wave Field in 2012 kept Tupelo out of the postseason. He helped beat the Golden Wave 2-0 in a putout game.
Enis reminded his team of that fact during his post-practice chat. He also reminded them the Falcons’ workhorse would likely pitch again if there’s a Game 3 in the series.
“The goal has to be to get him off the mound,” Wave pitcher/infielder Carter Clayton said. “The longer he’s on the mound, the longer they’re in the game.”
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday in Columbus while a Game 3, if necessary, would be played at 6 p.m. Monday in Tupelo.
Tupelo reached the quarterfinals with a two-game sweep of rival Madison Central, winning 2-1 and 6-5 in eight innings. Columbus swept Clinton, winning 7-4 and 7-6.