SP baseball v Tupelo
By Brad Greer
Few people statewide knew much about South Panola baseball, that is until last Thursday night at 8:45 p.m when the Tigers’ Ethan Bright changed all of that.
Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh to No.1 nationally ranked Tupelo, Bright drilled a two-out double into right field to score Tyler Benson and David Renfroe to give the Tigers a dramatic 6-5 win over the Golden Wave on “Senior Night” at Tiger Park.
Tupelo, (24-2; 8-1), which suffered its first loss of the season two nights earlier at the hands Oxford 14-10, took the lead in the top of the seventh when Gardner Richey blasted a two-run home run off of Tiger starting pitcher Renfroe.
But that did not deter South Panola as Benson, who had previously struck out three times in the game, ignited the rally by lacing a one-out triple. Following Monroe Harrison’s infield pop up, Renfroe was intentionally walked for the second time in the game.
Bright then stepped up and smashed into the gap in right center the first pitch from Wave starting pitcher Kyle Thorton. That scored Renfroe from first base, setting off a wild celebration among South Panola players and fans.
“They walked David twice with two outs to pitch to me. I guess they thought I would be the easier of the two to get out,” Bright said with a big grin. “We knew we could go toe-to-toe with these guys and we’ve wanted them for a long time and we finally got them.”
The Golden Wave had won the two previous meetings 4-3 and 5-3 .
South Panola, (15-9; 6-3) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Bright’s RBI double that scored courtesy runner Zach Horne. Tupelo answered back with a run of their own in the top of the second on a walk, single and error.
The Tigers regained the lead in the bottom of the third by scoring three runs on one hit and a error.
Benson struck out but reached first base on a passed ball. Following a walk by Renfroe, Wave shortstop Philip Mattews dropped Bright’s popup behind third to load the bases.
Designated hitter Wesley Gregg then hit a high fly ball that the left fielder lost in the lights that allowed all three runs to score. Tupelo made three errors in the game while the Tigers accounted for five miscues.
Renfroe meanwhile had the Wave hitters baffled with his 88-mile-per-hour fastball and a sharp breaking curveball as the right-hander held Tupelo to one hit through 5.2 innings. Renfroe got into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings as the visitors put runners on second and third with no outs but could muster only one run — a sacrifice fly in the fifth by Richey that made the score 4-2.
“That home run kind of rattled me a little bit but I had to get back focused again. I struck out the next two guys and got out of the inning. But I knew we were going to get it done in the bottom of the seventh,” said Renfroe.
Asked what he thought was the biggest inning of the game, Renfroe replied, “ the bottom of the seventh, without a doubt.”
The junior allowed five runs on five hits while walking five and striking out 12 while getting the complete game victory. Thornton, a Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection and Ole Miss signee, suffered the loss.
South Panola collected seven hits in the game. Bright led the way with a pair of doubles and three RBI’s while Renfroe added two singles. Gregg contributed with a double and Joseph Blair singled.