SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2009

Bright’s 88 MPH arm wins district shootout over ‘Jackets

By Brad Greer

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Sole possession of second place in Region 2-5A was on the line Tuesday afternoon as the South Panola Tigers faced off in the first of three meetings with Starkville. In what turned out to be a pitchers duel between the Yellowjackets R.J. Johnson and South Panola’s Ethan Bright, it was the Tigers who mustered up enough offense for a 4-3 victory to improve to 11-5 and 3-1 in district play.

Bright pitched six strong innings to register  his fourth win of the season while David Renfroe picked up the save by striking out the side in the seventh inning. It was the first outing for Renfroe in over two weeks after battling a strained oblique muscle. Johnson meanwhile went the distance in the loss.

South Panola got on the board in the bottom of the first with a run on three hits as Corbin Moore and Bright singled with one out. After cleanup hitter Lee Self’s sacifice fly advanced both runners, Wesley Greg slapped a single up the middle that scored Moore but courtesy runner Zack Horne was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Starkville, (11-4; 3-2) knotted the score at 1-1 in the top of the second when Daniel Forde led off with a single then later scored on a delayed steal from third. The ‘Jackets would not score again until the sixth as Bright retired the next 10 of 11 batters he faced.

The Tigers took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning as Joseph Blair reached on a fielders’ choice followed by Whit Whitten’s single. After Dane Broome was fanned for the second out, Renfroe was intentionally walked to load the bases. Johnson then walked Moore on a full count to force in a run. Whitten scored on a wild pitch one batter later to make the score 3-1.

South Panola would scratch across the winning run in the fourth on a two-out error that scored Whitten who led off the inning with a single. The Tigers stranded eight runners on the basepaths while leaving the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings.

Starkville made things interesting in the top of the sixth by plating a pair of runs. Chuck Tillery led off the inning with a triple then scored on a sacifice fly. Following a groundout and a walk by Forde, Blake Dawkins drilled a RBI double to left to drive in a run. Bright would then strike out Bryan Koening to retire the side.

Bright ended the day with eight strikeouts while walking two and scattering four hits.

The Tigers were led at the plate by Whitten with a pair of singles while Coty Bryant, Moore, Bright, Blair and Greg followed with singles.

South Panola travels to Starkville tonight starting with JV action at 5 p.m followed by the varsity at 7. The Tigers will stay on the road tomorrow with a trip to Oxford at 2 and 4 p.m.

On Monday, the ninth grade team will host Grenada for the final games. The team was originally scheduled to play Desoto Central at Northwest, but has been canceled due to conflicting varsity schedules.