TROOPERS HOLD OFF TROJANS
By Mike Talbert
MOOREVILLE Coach Rex Berryman decided to shift his pitching rotation, and it paid off as the Mooreville Troopers swept a doubleheader from the Bruce Trojans to open the Class 2A playoffs.
Mooreville ace Rhasheen Dilworth followed the script laid out for him Saturday, getting the save in the first game and then surviving nine innings in the second for a win.
Jason Bishop singled to the right-center gap with two out in the bottom of the ninth of the second game to drive in Jason Raper for a 7-6 win and the sweep. Mooreville won the first game of the best-of-three series 8-6, going with left-hander Daniel McKinney.
“Both of our pitchers are about equal, but Danny gets a little wild in the late innings,” Mooreville coach Rex Berryman said. “We were going to bring in Rhasheen if we needed him, and have him ready for the second game. Daniel (6-3) pitched well. If we had made all the plays he would have had the complete game.”
Bruce coach Donny Logan said, “I thought coach Berryman made a good move going with the left-hander first. He must have heard we have trouble with left-handers. Still we had our chances. We didn’t make the best of our chances.”
Mooreville (22-9) will be at Greenville St. Joseph (14-7) Saturday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader in the second round best-of-three series. St. Joseph beat Leflore County 15-0, 11-1. Bruce finishes its season 20-9.
After pitching to two batters for the save in the first game, Dilworth was pressed by Bruce the whole way in the second.
The Trojans loaded the bases in the seventh inning before losing pitcher Freddy Bullard (4-5) beat out an infield single to drive in the tying run. After that Dilworth had seven straight outs.
“I was getting tired after the seventh, but I didn’t want to let them know I was,” Dilworth said. “I just bore down. We didn’t want to lose our home field advantage.”
Dilworth liked pitching in the second game, knowing that Mooreville wasn’t in a putout situation.
“It took a lot of pressure off me. They had to win to play another game. The pressure was all on them,” Dilworth said.
The game was see-saw most of the way, with Mooreville taking a 2-0 lead on Ian Foster’s first home run of the season. Later in the inning Mooreville was handicapped when second baseman Eric Baker was ejected for not sliding when he was tagged out 12 feet from the plate.
Bruce starting pitcher Carlos Armstrong gave himself a 4-2 lead with a two-run single in the third. The lead changed hands again and the score was tied twice before Bishop settled things.
“I had to hit the ball. I made an error earlier that could have kept us from us winning,” Bishop said.
In the first game, Bruce’s No. 1 starter Brian Hunsucker (9-2) got roughed up for five runs in the first inning. That included a two-run single off Raper, who was 5-for-7 in the two games.
“Brian was nervous and hadn’t been in a playoff situation before,” Logan said. “After that he pitched his ball game.”
It was too late as McKinney struck out 10. The key play may have been a base-running mistake in the second, when Bruce had the bases loaded and Thomas was tagged trying to score from second on a two-out wild pitch.
After two games decided by a total of three runs, Berryman said, “You don’t sweep a team of Bruce’s quality without some breaks.”
Mooreville 8, Bruce 6
Bruce 012 100 2 6 7 2
Mooreville 503 000 X 8 9 3
WP- Daniel McKinney (6-3). S – Rasheen Dilworth 1. Brian Hunsucker (9-2). Multiple Hits – (B) Marcus Thomas; (M) Jason McMillan 2, Jason Raper 2. 2B- (M) Dilworth. HR – (B) Anthony Spencer.
Notes: McKinney struck out 10, walked five, Hunsucker struck out five, walked one. Spencer’s homer was his fifth in five games.
Mooreville 7, Bruce 6
Bruce 013 001 100 6 9 3
Mooreville 200 022 001 7 9 4
WP – Rasheen Dilworth (9-3). LP – Freddy Bullard (4-5). Multiple Hits – (B) Carlos Armstrong 3, (M) Dilworth 2, Raper 3. 2B – (B) Bullard, Armstrong. HR – (M) Ian Foster. Records: Mooreville 22-9, Bruce 20-9.
Notes: Mooreville wins best-of-three opening round of the Class 2A playoffs and visits Greenville St. Joseph 1 p.m. Saturday for second round doubleheader. Dilworth struck out six, walked one, hit two batters.