| By Myra Bean
The South Panola Tigers took the Olive Branch Quistors to the edge and back Friday night in a all-important district matchup.
Before a possible record crowd at American Legion Park, Olive Branch won 12-8 but not before the Tigers (8-2 overall, 2-1 district) led at one time in the game.
The game ended on a double play by Olive Branch to stop the Tigers who had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Tigers were down 12-6 and only had one out before they loaded the bases. Senior shortstop Jameson Rodgers walked to get on base. Senior first baseman Josh Boren doubled to left field to put men on second and third. Mitchell Houston singled and drove home Rodgers. David Renfroe singled to drive home Boren. Barrett Johnson walked to again load the bases.
On a 3-2 pitch, Lance Hendrix went for a line drive but the Olive Branch pitcher picked the ball up and threw to home plate to get out Houston. Then the catcher threw to first base to get out Hendrix for the doubleplay which ended the game.
"The players know they are more than capable of defeating this team," Tiger head coach Patrick Robey said. "Olive Branch is solid and we knew we had to play well and we didn’t play well. We made some crucial mistakes."
One of the mistakes was a grand slam homerun by Olive Branch in the top of the fourth.
"The homerun wasn’t the problem," Robey said. "The problem were the three walks before the homerun."
Those three walks loaded the bases for Olive Branch.
"On the mound, we got behind some batters," he said. "The kids know what mistakes were made. They know we can’t win by walking players."
Rodgers hit a homerun over the centerfield wall in the bottom of the first to cut the Quistors lead 3-1.
In the bottom of the second inning, Kyle Crofford grounded out to second base and drove home Johnson, who had walked to get on base, to cut the Quistor lead to 3-2.
The bottom of the third inning was big for the Tigers as they scored four runs and took a 6-3 lead.
Jonathon Flint singled to get on base and got to second on a passed ball. Rodgers singled to right field to drive home Flint. Rodgers stole home to take the lead 4-3.
Boren singled but was out going to second on a fielder’s choice when Houston hit to the second baseman. To complete the scoring, Renfroe homered left of centerfield to drive home Houston.
Olive Branch answered with five runs in the top of the fourth to retake the lead 8-6. Then in the top of the sixth, Olive Branch scored four runs including two homeruns for three runs.
Heath Bolton got the starting nod on the mound and pitched four and one third innings. He had four strikeouts, walked five and allowed eight hits to take the loss for the Tigers.
He was relieved in the fifth by Colton Ales, who was relieved in the sixth by Ethan Bright.
The junior varsity Tigers sneaked in four fifth inning runs to defeat the Conquistadors 4-3 Friday afternoon.
Brian Fortner was on the mound for the Tigers and got the win.
Robbie Benson walked and Monroe Harrison and Coty Bryant both singled to get on base in the bottom of the fifth. With the biggest hit of the day on two outs, Bud Barthold tripled to drive home those three runs then stole home for the winning run.
The Tigers did not get to rest too much Saturday as they hosted Cleveland East Side early in the day and Grenada Saturday night.
The Tigers walked away with both wins. They defeated Cleveland East Side 15-4 in five innings and Grenada 13-9 in seven innings.
Against Cleveland East Side, the Tigers recorded 11 hits. Jonathan Flint pitched three innings and got the win. Kyle Crofford was the starting pitcher and pitched two innings.
Boren was two of three with three RBIs (runs batted in). Hendrix was three for three at the plate with two doubles and three RBIs. Crofford was two for two at the plate with two RBIs.
Johnson recorded two homeruns and three RBIs against Grenada Saturday night.
"He had a breakout game," said Robey.
Boren was two for four with two singles against Grenada. Rodgers hit one double. Renfroe had three singles and three RBIs. Hendrix hit two singles and Tyler Benson hit two singles and two RBIs.
Johnson started and pitched two innings. Rodgers pitched three innings and got the win. Renfroe pitched the last two innings and got a save.
The Tigers are participating in the Toro Tri-Lakes Springbreak Classic. They will play Grenada today at Lafayette High School at 6 p.m.
Saturday, the Tigers will host Charleston in a double header at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.