By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The hits just kept coming Thursday night. Unfortunately, not for Tupelo.
No. 5-ranked Northwest Rankin’s bats produced 14 hits – six in a four-run third inning – to give the visiting Cougars an 8-3 victory in the first game of a best-of-three MHSAA Class 6A baseball playoff series.
The second game of the opening-round series is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Northwest Rankin in Flowood. The Cougars defeated Vicksburg last week in a play-in series while Division 2 winner Tupelo received a bye.
“We just couldn’t match their hitting,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said. “Even some of their outs were hit hard. Their No. 9 guy had three hits.”
The Golden Wave (19-10) bats produced seven hits, but five of those came in the sixth and seventh innings.
Northwest Rankin (26-5) right-hander Wesley Watts no-hit Tupelo for 3 2/3 innings before surrendering a single to J.P. Stanzell.
The Cougars jumped on Golden Wave left-hander Hudson Roy in the third inning with six hits. Shelton Wallace had a two-run single and Kreg Garner and Will Neihaus RBI singles to give Northwest Rankin a 6-0 lead.
Neihaus had an RBI single in the first to give his team a 2-0 lead.
“We faced a great-hitting ballclub,” Enis said. “They didn’t swing and miss a whole lot.”
Carter Clayton relieved Roy in the third and finished the game on the mound. He gave up six hits and recorded three strikeouts.
Northwest Rankin took an 8-0 lead in the sixth, scoring on an RBI single by Carter and a wild pitch.
Rob McAuley plated a run for Tupelo with a fielder’s choice ground ball in the sixth.
Tupelo scored two in the seventh on three Northwest errors and singles by Michael Ray, William Drummond and Michael Hensley.