By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Christian Preparatory School Eagles needed a victory Tuesday to clinch first place in Division 4-1A.
And they proved to be more than up to the task.
A sweet first-inning home run by Stephen Sexton backed up some timely pitching by Jack Brady to help the Eagles claim a 16-2 win over the Vardaman Rams, and claim the No. 1 seed from 4-1A.
“At this point, we’re wanting to approach every game with a playoff atmosphere,” first-year TCPS coach Will Lowrey said. “Sexton is swinging a hot bat for us the past two nights.
“And overall, this was a good team effort.”
The Eagles (18-3-1, 11-1) got off to a strong-enough start on the scoreboard with a three-run bottom of the first inning. That was highlighted by Sexton’s two-run homer, a shot into the tennis courts at City Park, his second that deep in as many nights.
Tupelo added another four runs in the second frame, with Weston Webb and Will Crockrell getting RBI hits. The Eagles then finished off their offensive output in the fourth inning with eight runs, including a two-run homer by 8th grader Hayden Elliot, and a two-run double by Sexton.
“This team is competing right now,” Lowrey said. “We don’t want to go into the playoffs too high, or too flat.
“But we’ve got guys on the bench pushing the starters.”
Tupelo starter Israel Foster struck out five in two innings, but walked five and allowed Vardaman’s two runs in the top of the second inning. Brady pitched the final three innings for the Eagles, allowing no hits to pick up the win.
Being a No. 1 seed, TCPS has a first-round bye in the Class 1A playoffs, and will most likely play the winner of the Falkner-Shaw series next week. In the meantime, TCPS will be able to make up a rained-out contest, hosting Mantachie, the 1-2A No. 1 seed, Saturday at noon.
“We got them once in the regular season, so it doesn’t take a genius to know they will be looking for pay back,” Lowery said. “Mantachie is as good as any 1A team we’ll see in the playoffs, and we’ll treat it like a playoff game.”