By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo Christian has been close, but the Eagles are trying to take that next step.
TCPS is one of three area teams in the 2013 MHSAA North state title series beginning tonight, the winners advancing to the state championship series next week at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
The Eagles travel to Greenville to face St. Joseph at 6 p.m. for Game 1 of the Class 1A series. Each best-of-three is scheduled to run through Saturday.
It is the Eagles’ second trip to the North finals, swept by this St. Joe team last season.
“Last year, I think we forced a lot of things. We were pretty hyped to be there and wanted to win the game so bad, I feel like we got out of character,” TCPS coach Will Lowrey said. “We swung at pitches that weren’t really good pitches and it all folded into a really good situation for St. Joe.”
The Eagles (23-7) will likely start senior lefty Zachary Bridges (7-2) tonight. Senior Itawamba CC signee Drew Carter will likely go in Game 2 Friday at home.
Carter leads four Eagles hitting more than .400. He has a team-high .484 average with three home runs and 32 RBIs.
St. Joe (18-4) is led by senior pitcher ad first baseman Raines Rester, who enters the series hitting .520.
“This year, we’re more familiar with them. They understand what they’re getting into. It’s basically same team. We’ve got a good game plan,” Lowrey said.
“Most of what we’ve been doing is focusing on ourselves, trying not to worry about the opponent as much. We’re really coming together, fighting for each other.”
Two other area teams are vying for state title series berths. East Union hosts Baldwyn for Game 1 of the Class 2A North final series tonight at 7 p.m. In Class 3A, Kossuth is looking for its second straight state final appearance, beginning its series at 7 p.m. at Independence.
Baldwyn pitcher Bishop Davis threw 148 pitches for Baldwyn, a 10-inning complete game in a 4-1 win at Calhoun City in Monday night’s Game 3. The senior bounced back after lasting only 11⁄3 innings there in Game 1.
“I looked over and had a word with his dad,” Baldwyn coach Shannon Smith said. “I never let a kid go past 105-110 pitches. His dad said, “It’s his last game. If he gets beat, it could be his last game. Let him go.’” After 100 pitches, he looked like he was getting stronger. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. He was absolutely dominant.”