SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Horn Lake turns “come-back” table on South Panola

By Brad Greer

South Panola was in its all-to familiar position against  visiting Horn Lake Saturday afternoon.

But unlike four of the last six games that was resulted in come-from-behind wins, the Tigers could not come up with the key hit.

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With runners on second and third and two outs in bottom of the seventh, Horn Lake starting pitcher Cody Reed struck out pinch-hitter Preston Blair to give the Eagles a 3-2 victory to even up their best-of-three series at 1-1 in the second round of the North 6A State playoffs.

South Panola took game one of the set Friday at Horn Lake as the Tigers scored four runs in top of the seventh with two outs to take a 5-2 victory.

The third and deciding game was postponed until night at 5 p.m., due to inclement weather, in Horn Lake.

With the Tigers leading 2-1 going into the seventh inning, it was Horn Lake’s turn for a comeback as the Eagles scratched across two runs off South Panola reliever Lane Massey to take the lead.

Chris Lantrip started the rally with a leadoff double. Mac Cooley then laid down a bunt that Massey fielded but threw the ball away at third allowing Lantrip to score the tying run. Hunter Martin followed with a RBI double to score Cooley with the go ahead run.

Hunter Durham relieved Massey on the mound later and got out of a bases-loaded jam by retiring the next three batters.

South Panola (21-9) would not go away however as Bobby Epps and Tays Hardy singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh then advanced one base on a wild pitch. But Reed would regroup and blow a fastball past Preston Blair for the final out of the game. Reed, a Northwest Community College signee, fanned 11 while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and walking one. Massey (0-1) was tagged with the loss.

“Like I told the kids, all you can ask for is a chance at the end of the game and we gave ourselves just that. We got a couple of hits there at the end and had a guy at the plate that we felt comfortable with, but Reed pitched a great game and you cannot take that away from him,” said Tiger head coach Patrick Robey.

“We played hard but today just was not our day,” Robey continued. “I thought Lee (Self) gave us a great effort  on the mound today, but he gave out after the sixth inning. When Lee told us he was tired then it was time to pull him. We brought in Massey who throws a lot of off speed pitches for strikes, but their leadoff guy did a good job getting on base. We made a poor play there at third base but we just have to focus on the positives and get ready for the next game.”

South Panola took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as leadoff hitter Chris Townsend reached third on a error then scored  as Mitchel Babb reached on yet another error by the Horn Lake second baseman.

After  Horn Lake (12-10) tied the game at one in top of the fifth, the Tigers answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame on Townsend’s two-out RBI single that scored pinch-runner Blake Darby from second.

Self pitched a strong six innings for the Tigers as the senior gave up three hits while striking out nine and walking five batters. Both teams registered five hits each in the game as Epps led South Panola with two singles while Self, Townsend and Hardy all recorded singles.

The Tigers had their backs against the wall yet again Friday in game one as the Eagles held a 2-1 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning.

Horn Lake starting pitcher Mac Cooley struck out the first two batters before Blair came off the bench and slapped a single into left on a full count to get the rally started.

After Townsend singled to put runners on the corners. Babb then kept the inning alive by reaching on an error by the Horn Lake shortstop that would have ended the game.

Blair then tied the game by scoring on a wild pitch by Cooley before Self drilled a two-run single that scored pinch-runners Will Dickins and DaShawn Lindsey. Two batters later, Taylor Meek drove in Self with the final run on a RBI single.

“Coach Robey had enough confidence in me to go up there and get on base and that is what I did,“ said Blair after the game. “I ran the count full (3-2 count) and got a pitch on the inside part of the plate and just put the bat on it. It does not matter if we are down six runs or one run, we know we can came back from any deficit. I just thank my Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the strength to get the job done.”

Babb (7-3) scattered six hits while giving up one earned run and fanning eight over seven innings to pick up the victory. Andrew Horne led the Tigers at the plate with three singles while Townsend and Durham added two singles each. Babb, Self, and Meek also rapped out singles.