SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tigers face tough start to season

By Brad Greer

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In a game that had more twists and turns than a Six Flags rollercoster, the Northwest Rankin Cougars scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a season-opening 10-9 win over South Panola Saturday afternoon at Ridgeland High School.

In the nightcap, Ridgeland jumped out to a 7-2 lead then cruised the rest of the way by posting a 14-3 romp over the Tigers in five innings.

After South Panola took a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth on three singles and four wild pitches, Taylor Stark got hit by an Andrew Horne pitch to start a two-out Cougar rally. Following an error that put runners on first and second, Cody Livingston slapped a RBI (run batted in) single into right field that scored Stark.

Tiger third baseman Lee Self relieved Horne on the mound and promptly hit two batters and walked another to give the No. 6 ranked Cougars a win.

South Panola would not go down without a fight however as the Tigers put runners in the corners with two outs in the top of the seventh, but reliever Elliot Smith got pinch-hitter Chris Townsend to ground out to end the game.

South Panola (0-2), jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as Self drew a one-walk followed by Wesley Gregg’s infield single. Matt Hendrix then drilled a line drive off starting Cougar pitcher Livingston’s glove to plate Self. Greg later scored on Luke Latham’s RBI groundout.

Northwest Rankin responded in the bottom half of the frame with three unearned runs on a pair of Tiger errors and two walks. The Cougars tacked on three more runs in the second inning off South Panola starting pitcher Mitchel Babb for a 6-2 advantage.

The score stayed that way until the fourth inning when Brennon Gibson drilled a two-out RBI double that chased home Stark for a 7-2 Northwest Rankin lead.

South Panola began clawing their way back into the game with three runs in the fifth as Matt Brown drew a leadoff walk to start the inning. Zach Horne  followed by getting hit by a Livingston pitch to put runners on first and second. Babb then ripped an RBI single into center to score Brown. Horne and Babb both scored later in the inning on a double steal and a wild pitch to cut the Cougar lead to 7-5.

The Tigers plated four runs in the top of the sixth to take a 9-7 lead on three consecutive singles by Latham, Ryan Maxwell and Bobby Epps. Brown followed with a base on balls and later scored on a wild pitch.

Hendrix and Maxwell led South Panola at the plate with two hits each. Babb, Self, Greg, Latham and Epps all registered singles for the Tigers. Andrew Horne took the loss on the mound for South Panola as the sophomore pitched 3.2 innings of relief work in place of Babb. Horne gave up four runs (one earned) on four hits while walking one and hitting two batters.

Babb surrendered six runs (three earned) on three hits while walking four and striking out two in 1.2 innings of work. Self finished the game by pitching 1/3 of an inning, fanning one and walking one while hitting two batters.

The second game was all Ridgeland as the Titans scored in each of the four innings to post the easy win over the Tigers.

South Panola took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Babb led off the game with a walk and later scored on Hendrix’s RBI single. Ridgeland  responded with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning off starting pitcher Hendrix.

Zach Horne led off the top of the second with a leadoff double and later scored on a wild pitch to trim the Titan lead, 3-2, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get as Ridgeland scored four in the second, one in the third and six in the fourth.

South Panola plated their final run in the third as Townsend scored on a wild pitch after drilling a triple into right field.

The Tigers collected seven hits in the game as Horne had a double and a single while Latham added a pair of singles. Hendrix and Epps both singled in the loss.

Hendrix gave up seven runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings of work on the hill for South Panola. Colby Gammill followed with 1.1 innings of relief work by giving up four runs (two earned) on one hit and walking two batters. Joey Gabbard worked the final inning, giving up three runs on four hits and fanning one batter.

South Panola hosts Grenada tonight  at 5 p.m. with junior varsity action followed by the varsity. The Tigers will then take on Jackson Prep Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m in the Capital City Shootout followed by a 5:30 matchup with Magnolia Heights.