Tigers' bats hot with playoffs looming

By Blake Long/Special to the Journal

SALTILLO – With the first round of the state baseball playoffs less than a week away, Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen likes the way his team is swinging the sticks.
The Tigers’ bats stayed hot Saturday night, taking advantage of a strong wind to left field by belting four home runs to complete a weekend sweep of Lee County rivals with a 10-7 win over Mooreville.
Saltillo (15-10), which also beat Shannon 10-0 on Saturday, has now won five straight games and clinched a spot in the Class 5A playoffs with their Friday victory over Oxford.
“We’re getting hot at the right time,” Tigers pitcher Cosby Repult said. “We just need to go ahead and get these wins next week where we can carry them on to the playoffs.”
A win at New Hope on Tuesday coupled with an Oxford loss to West Point would vault the Tigers to the No. 2 seed out of Division 2-5A. Otherwise, Saltillo will claim the No. 3 playoff spot.
Repult is a big reason the Tigers seem to be peaking at the right time. His 2-RBI single in the sixth inning off reliever Kurtis Yarbrough (0-1) gave Saltillo their first lead of the game at 8-7 after Mooreville scored the first seven runs of the game.
Chase Hill sealed the come-from-behind victory two batters later with his second two-run home run of the game to put the Tigers up 10-7.
Hill and Blake Houston went back-to-back to begin Saltillo’s comeback in the third inning and Repult added a two-run homer in the fifth.
“Everybody’s getting hot, so I guess we’re getting ready for the playoffs,” Bolen said. “If you’re ever going to hit the ball, this is a good time to do it.”
On the mound, Repult (5-4) took over for Houston in the third and did not allow a run the rest of the way, striking out eight and giving up only two hits.
A three-run homer by Austin Knox and a solo blast by Zack Gumm put the Troopers up 4-0 after two innings and brought the home run total in the game to six.
Run scoring singles by Ben Seay and Gumm in the third gave Mooreville (14-10-1) a 7-0 lead before Saltillo’s comeback.
Mooreville, the defending Class 3A North Half champion, started its road back to Jackson by claiming the Division 2-3A title, and the first-round bye that comes with it, Friday.
That leaves first-year Troopers coach Derek Thompson cautious of their position with the layoff that accompanies the bye.
“Last year, everybody in North Mississippi 3A that was a No. 1 seed lost because of the ten-day layoff,” he said. “That’s a long time without getting in the box and playing somebody besides yourself.”