Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008
By Brad Greer
Even though there was no full moon, something rather odd took place at South Panola Tuesday night as the Tigers closed out their summer league high school baseball season.
Very rarely do baseball games end in a tie, but for neither team to score a run in a doubleheader is almost unheard of.
That was the case as the Tigers squared off against the Mississippi Sox, an Oxford-based 14-and-under USSSA select team, and battled to a pair of 0-0 games.
“Last year we played a 17-inning tie against Desoto Central, but no, I’ve never been involved in a scoreless game,” said Tiger head coach Patrick Robey.
In the opener, both teams combined for only five hits as South Panola’s Whit Whitten and Jacob Shempert, a freshman from Houston High School, hooked up in a classic pitchers’ duel.
Whitten gave up two hits over eight innings while issuing two free passes and striking out four. The senior right-hander retired the last 16 of 17 batters he faced including 13 in a row.
Shempert meanwhile was equally impressive by fanning eight and giving up three hits over seven innings.
South Panola left six runners on the basepaths and squandered a pair of run-scoring opportunities.
In the first inning, the Tigers put runners on the corners with two outs, but Shempert struck out Zack Horne to retire the side. South Panola threatened in the fourth as Wesley Gregg hit a two-out triple, only to have Horne get caught looking at a Shempert fastball for strike three the next at bat.
Gregg’s triple and single led the Tigers at the plate while Lee Self singled to account for the other hit.
In the nightcap, South Panola’s Cody Bryant, who missed all the regular season with a injury, spun a five-inning perfect game by retiring all 15 batters he faced. The Tigers saw a familiar face in the form of their high school teammate Mitchell Babb who towed the rubber for the Sox.
A scary moment occurred in the bottom of the second when catcher Ryan Maxwell lined a pitch off Babb’s leg. Babb laid on the infield grass for five minutes before being helped from the field, but was later walking under his own power accompanied by a ice bag. Garth Huddleston replaced Babb on the hill and fanned Nolan Parker on a full count to end the inning.
Bryant, meanwhile, was in complete control the entire game as he allowed only one ball to leave the infield.
“I felt really good out there tonight. I was hitting my spots and was able to throw more than one pitch for a strike and I located my curveball and changeup. But the most important thing was to get ahead early in the count with my fastball.”
South Panola had three hits in the game as Whitten, Gregg and Maxwell all singled. The Tigers had one last chance to push across a run with runners on second and third in the bottom of the fourth, but Horne flied out to center to end the rally.