TUPELO RALLIES TWICE TO SWEEP SOUTHAVEN
By Parrish Alford
There was the look of a sweep just a few innings into Tupelo’s Class 5A playoff doubleheader with Southaven Saturday. A Southaven sweep.
But thanks to some nifty middle relief by left-handed freshmen Justin Bounds and Lee Loden, the Golden Wave battled back from deficits twice Saturday to beat the Chargers 9-6 and 8-7 and advance to the quarterfinal round. Sophomore Luke McAlpin had a lead-off home run in the bottom of the seventh to win Game 2.
Tupelo improves to 22-9 and will play the Greenville-Clinton winner on the road next Saturday. Eliminated by Tupelo for the second consecutive season, Southaven finishes at 18-6.
“Those two guys are freshmen only in classification now,” Tupelo coach Larry Harmon said.
Loden relieved Game 1 starter Mel McElroy in the third after McElroy had allowed a one-out, two-run double by Southaven’s Eddie Eldred, and Tupelo trailed 6-1. Loden walked his first batter, then pitched out of a bases-loaded situation without allowing a run.
Bounds came on in the fourth and went the rest of the way, allowing no runs and only one hit.
“We left six on base in the first three innings. You can’t do that in the playoffs,” Southaven coach Ed Rich said.
“Bounds kept them off balance by changing speeds and keeping curve balls low,” Harmon said. “Going from the righty (McElroy) to the lefty was also a key.”
Bounds kept the Chargers off balance on the mound, then pushed them over the edge at the plate. Bounds had a two-run single past a drawn-in infield to give the Wave a 7-6 lead in the fourth. It was only his second varsity at-bat this season. The other was a sacrifice bunt in early March.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I just wanted to get a hit.”
Billy Curry gave Bounds some breathing room with a two-run homer in the sixth.
Like Bounds, McAlpin only wanted a hit. In three previous at-bats in Game 2, he had flied to right twice and struck out. The right-handed hitting McAlpin stayed with his opposite field plan. He worked Southaven southpaw David White to a full count before driving a fastball out in right field.
“We had hoped Burney would do it the inning before. He’s been doing it for us all year,” McAlpin said. “I really thought he had gotten me with that curve on the pitch before that.”
The outside corner wasn’t friendly to White, who allowed four walks as the Wave rallied to take the lead with four runs in the sixth. Tupelo’s Jeff Boyd doubled home Duncan Foster with the seventh run, but Rudy Strahan was thrown out trying to score for the third out of the inning.
Loden entered the game in the fifth and allowed just one run in a bases-loaded no-out jam. The Chargers roughed him up with a pair of runs in the seventh, tying the game at 7-7.
But Foster relieved Loden and got the final two outs of the inning, setting the stage for McAlpin’s hit.
“Against the left-hander we try to go the other way,” Harmon said. “(McAlpin) had been hitting the other way hard all day.”
Tupelo 9, Southaven 6
Southaven 303 000 0 6 7 1
Tupelo 101 502 X 9 10 2
WP – Justin Bounds. LP – Chad Harville. Multiple Hits – (T) Duncan Foster 3, Rudy Strahan, Jeff Boyd. (S) Eddie Eldred 3. 2B – (T) Foster. (S) Eldred 2. HR – (T) Burney Hutchinson, Billy Curry. (S) Rusty Cagle. Records: Tupelo 21-9, Southaven 18-5.
Tupelo 8, Southaven 7
Southaven 310 010 2 7 16 1
Tupelo 001 204 1 8 8 1
WP – Duncan Foster. LP – David White. Multiple Hits – (T) Andy Williamson, Billy Curry. (S) Ken Anthony 4, Rusty Cagle, Brad Shackleford, Chard Harville, Kenny Rhea, Eddie Eldred. 2B – (T) Curry, Jason Long, Jeff Boyd, Jason Miller. (S) Anthony. HR – (T) Luke McAlpin. Records: Tupelo 22-9. Southaven 18-6.