By Brad Greer
After dropping a hard-fought 5-3 decision to top-ranked Tupelo Thursday night, South Panola bounced back to hammer Starkville 11-1 in five innings Friday afternoon in district 2-5A baseball action.
With the victory, the Tigers improved their record to 3-2 in district play and 12-6 overall while the Yellowjackets fell to 7-8 overall. South Panola also took a 8-2 win over the Yellowjackets last Tuesday in the first of three contests between the two schools.
After the contest, head coach Patrick Robey commended his club for bouncing back after the tough loss against the Tupelo.
“I thought we came out (today) with a lot of fire and a lot of intensity and it’s tough to come back after putting up a great fight against Tupelo. I’ve never been more prouder than I am of these kids for coming back out here after getting home late, getting up and going to school, and then come out here and beat a good Starkville team,” said Robey.
The Tigers jumped Starkville starting pitcher R.J. Johnson in the bottom of the first by sending 13 batters to the plate while scoring eight runs on seven hits. Tyler Benson led off by reaching on an error then advanced to second on Monroe Harrison’s sacrifice bunt. David Renfroe then recorded the first of his three hits on the day with a RBI single to score Benson.
Following an Ethan Bright walk, Wesley Gregg and Whitt Whitten delivered singles for a 2-0 lead. After Joseph Blair grounded out, Corbin Moore and Dane Broome followed with back-to-back singles to increase the lead to 4-0. Benson kept the inning going by drawing a walk that was followed up by consecutive singles by Harrison and Renfroe to round out the scoring.
That turned out to be more than enough run support for Bright as the junior hurler ran his record to 2-0 on the year by pitching five innings while giving up a pair of hits while striking out five and issuing one walk.
South Panola added to the lead in the bottom of the fourth by plating two more runs and a pair of hits. Harrison led off the inning by reaching on a walk then stole second base. Renfroe then slapped a single into left to put runners at the corners with no outs. Bright then helped his own cause with a RBI single to score Harrison. Renfroe later came home on Gregg’s sacrifice fly.
The Tigers ended the game in the bottom of the fifth as Blair led off the inning with a single and later scored on Benson’s double. Every batter in the lineup got at least one hit as South Panola pounded out 11 hits on the day.
In the loss to Tupelo, the Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Renfroe’s RBI double that scored Harrison. Tupelo answered with two runs in the second and one in the third for a 3-1 lead. South Panola closed the margin to 3-2 in the fourth on a double by Bright followed Gregg’s RBI single, but the Golden Wave plated a pair of runs in their half of the frame to expand the lead to 5-2.
Bright then connected on his team-leading fifth home run of the season, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get on the night.
South Panola out-hit the Wave 9-6 in the game as Renfroe and Gregg each recorded a single and a double. Moore added a double while Benson and Ryan Maxwell singled. Colton Ales (5-4) took the loss on the mound.
The Tigers will conclude their three-game series by hosting the Golden Wave tonight at 7 p.m.