By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The line between success and failure was razor thin for the Tupelo Golden Wave Wednesday.
And Columbus Falcons pitcher Trace Lee was more than happy to leave the Wave with razor burn.
The Columbus sophomore pitched a masterful seven innings, as the Falcons edged Tupelo 2-0 in a crucial Division 2-6A battle.
Coupled with Grenada beating South Panola 4-3 in nine innings, Tupelo (17-10) was edged out of the playoffs for the first time since the 1980’s. All four teams in 2-6A entered the night tied with 4-4 division marks.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t get in, but we had our chances,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said. “What is so frustrating is that we could have been the No. 1 seed from our division, so the loss tonight hurts.
“This is something we’re not use to.”
Tupelo is also not use to a pitcher turning in a performance like Lee (5-2). Using a lethal curve ball, the sophomore scattered five hits while only walking one.
“He did an outstanding job, and his breaking ball was exceptional,” Columbus coach Jeffrey Cook said. “The kid is a pleasure to coach.”
An irony here is that the last time Tupelo did not win its division title was 2006. That year, Lee’s brother Tyson Lee played for the Falcons, before going on to play quarterback at Itawamba Community College and Mississippi State.
Tupelo did not touch Lee for a hit until back-to-back singles by Brayden Owen and Rob McAuley in the fourth.
The Wave’s best and conversely most disappointing threat came in the seventh inning. There, Colby Trotter was called out at second base for coming off the bag, and J. G. Miley was called out at the plate on a throw from right field.
While Lee was keeping Tupelo in check, Wave starter Dylan Vuncannon was effectively battling Columbus batters.
The senior, making his first start ever in a division contest, also scattered only five hits, and could have very easily thrown a seven-inning shutout.
Columbus (15-8) scored its first run in the fourth frame as No. 9 hitter Glenn Robinson executed a perfect squeeze bunt with two outs. Then in the seventh inning, Columbus scored again with two out on an RBi single by Chris McCullough that nicked off the glove of the Tupelo shortstop.