Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Golden Wave baseball team beat Columbus 7-6 in walk-off fashion Friday night, claiming Game 1 of the best-of-three Class 6A quarterfinal playoff series.
Chase Cernigliaro, playing in his first game back from injury, drove in the winning run.
Tupelo coach Gary Enis was pleased with the way his team battled.
“Just a great job by our guys to show their ability to come back and keep fighting,” he said.
Game 2 of the series will be today at Columbus at 6 p.m., weather permitting.
Holding a 5-1 lead after five innings, everything seemed to be going Tupelo’s way, but Columbus battled back to tie the game in the sixth inning.
A single by Trace Lee brought in two runs to make it a 5-3 game. A double by Columbus’s Isaiah Farmer scored Lee, and an infield hit on the next play tied the game at 5. The inning ended on an infield flyout with the bases loaded.
The Golden Wave was retired in order in the sixth inning. and the Falcons again found themselves with the bases loaded in the seventh. A sacrifice fly from Michael Sturdivant brought in a run but the inning ended with Tupelo – trailing 6-5 – throwing out a baserunner at second.
Tupelo needed baserunners as they entered the seventh, and got one when Carter Clayton reached first off of a fielding error. Clayton reached second on a wild pitch.
With two outs, William Ikerd made contact with the ball, sending a grounder to shortstop. A throwing error on the play scored Carter Clayton to tie it at 6, and Ikerd advanced to second. Mickey Sesin pinch ran for Ikerd, and was the winning run on Chase Cernigliaro’s walk-off line drive to center field. It was Cernigliaro’s first game back after recovering from a broken hand.
“I thought my season was over; I didn’t think I was going to play again,” said the senior. “I just knew I had to step up big if we were going to win this game, and thankfully I did.”
Golden Wave junior Mickey Sesin, who scored the winning run, agreed. “All the credit goes to Chase for coming up big in a clutch situation,” he said.