SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SP win over Vicksburg decided in extra inning

By Brad Greer

One strong characteristic of a solid baseball team is how well it finds a way to win even on days they do not play up to their full potential. Take South Panola for example.

The Tigers overcame six fielding errors, left nine runners on base but still came out victorious. That was  thanks in part to a six-run eighth inning as South Panola held off a pesky Vicksburg squad 9-3 at Vicksburg Saturday afternoon to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series in the opening round of the North State 6A playoffs.

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Game two of the series was scheduled for Monday afternoon at South Panola but was played in Madison Central due to a wet field from early morning rains. A victory would move the Tigers into Friday’s second-round play against Region 1 champion Horn Lake.

With the score deadlocked at 3-3 after regulation Saturday, the Tiger bats finally came to life in the eighth by plating six runs on five hits while sending 11 batters to the plate.

Taylor Meek got the rally started with a leadoff double followed by Bobby Epps’ bunt single. Hunter Durham drew a walk to load the bases before J. W. Willis struck out looking for out number one.

Blake Darby then walked to force home Meek to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Leadoff hitter Chris Townsend then slapped an RBI single to left to drive in pinch-runner Will Daughtery to increase the lead to 5-3.

The big blow of the inning for Vicksburg came in the next at bat as Mitchel Babb added his fourth hit of the game with a bases-loaded triple that cleaned the bases to give South Panola a commanding 8-3 lead. The Tigers tacked on the final run when pinch-runner Chance Whitten scored on an error off the bat of Andrew Horne.

Babb also did his damage on the mound by tossing a masterful complete game victory to improve his record to 6-3 on the season. The senior left-hander struck out 12 which included eight in the last three innings. The Meridian Community College signee issued one walk while surrendering six hits on 122 pitches.

“Vicksburg is a good-hitting ball team,” Babb said. “They started hitting my fastball there in the first couple of innings so I had to start throwing my curveball and slider on the first pitch then come back with my fastball later on in the game. They starting chasing my change-up and slider in the dirt so I kind of stayed with that.“

Babb was recently selected to play in the North-South All Star game in June at Pearl’s Trustmark Park.

Clyde Kendrick gave the Gators a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as he drilled a two-run home run off Babb. South Panola got on the board in the third as Willis drew a leadoff walk to start the inning and later scored on Babb’s two-out RBI single.

The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the sixth off Gator starting pitcher Cody Waddell as Babb led off the frame with a single. After Lee Self fanned for out number one, Horne singled, followed by a Meek walk to load the bases. Epps then drove in a run with a walk to tie the game at 2-2. Durham followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Horne from third.

Vicksburg (13-14) tied the game at three in the bottom of the sixth on a strange play. Pinch-runner Michael Rohner scored all the way from second base on a wild pitch. South Panola (18-7) loaded the bases in the seventh but could not get a run across as Horne bounced into a force out to end the inning.

Earlier in the inning, Townsend barely missed giving the Tigers a two-run lead as the junior shortstop just missed a home run by a few feet as the ball went around the left field foul pole.
Horne and Townsend each collected two singles while Meek followed with a double and single as South Panola registered 10 hits in the game.