By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
PONTOTOC – Kirk Presley’s last words from Sunday were almost scarily prophetic.
“We will see a different Hattiesburg team tomorrow.”
After winning with a 10-run margin Sunday, Tupelo survived an eight-run inning by the Hub City Bombers in the championship game of the senior American Legion State Tournament on Monday, as the 49ers claimed a 10-8 victory.
“I’m proud as heck of the kids with their overall approach all weekend,” said Presley, in his 12th season as 49ers head coach. “With the adversity we faced in the tournament, they didn’t get down when they got behind.
“They kept fighting and found a way to win.”
A key player in the Tupelo (21-12) comeback Monday was Hunter White from Fulton, with the go-ahead two-run single in the eighth. And there was Collin McCrory from Amory, Tupelo’s Game 1 starter from Friday, who threw 3 1/3 innings Monday against Hub City for the win.
Tupelo was leading the contest 5-0 through the top of the sixth.
But the wheels almost fell off when Tupelo pitching allowed three hits and five walks in the bottom of the frame as the Bombers (16-5) took an 8-5 lead.
Ty Wheeler lined a solo home run for the 49ers in the seventh, and Hayden Williams and Ben Seay had RBIs in the eighth to sandwich White’s big hit.
“I’ve practiced situations like that a bunch of times,” White said. “It’s not about being nervous, it’s seeing the ball and making a good swing.”
White’s hit came off Hub City hurler Sam Walley, an LSU-Eunice player from Taylorsville whose fastball has been gunned over 90 mph.
White, Walter Goss, and Tanner Poole all had RBIs to help Tupelo to its early 5-0 lead. Tupelo starter Jason Garret threw six-plus innings, only charged with two runs while scattering two hits.
The 49ers now advance to regional American Legion play Aug. 7-10. This will be Presley’s seventh regional as 49ers head coach.