SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tigers move up in 6A poll after starting season undefeated

By Brad Greer

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While it may not be summertime quite yet, the South Panola baseball team is off to a red hot start through its five games this season.

The Tigers, ranked No.4 in the state among Class 6A teams, improved to 5-0 with a pair of impressive wins over the weekend in the Mid-Mississippi Baseball Classic.

South Panola- 7 

Central Private (La.)-6

Matthew Williams two-out double in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Adam Cook from first base as South Panola defeated the No.1 ranked MAIS Class AA team Friday night at Northwest Rankin.

Cook got the rally started with a one-out single off Rebel reliever Ryan Bowman. Following a strikeout, Williams delivered Bowman’s initial pitch over first base and down the right field corner as Cook sped around the bases to provide the winning run.

“Matt is one of the hardest working guys we have on the team. He will stay here until his sister (South Panola head softball coach Ashleigh Hicks) leaves and he has spent hours upon hours for the past two seasons hitting in the batting cage. We always pick on him that if he had started playing baseball at an early age he might be a college prospect. He had a good week of practice and we rolled the dice with him and it certainly paid off,” said Tiger head coach Justin Reed  of Williams, who also added a RBI double in the fourth inning.

South Panola tied the game at six in the fifth on an Austin Towles RBI single that scored Jesse Pearson from second. Central Private (6-3) took a brief 6-5 lead in the top half on the inning with three runs on one hit.

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as leadoff hitter Landon Fullilove reached second on an error before Mason Wilkerson drew a walk. Fullilove later came home on a balk while courtesy runner Morgan Tubbs scored on a Pearson single to right center.

Central Private, of Baker, La. answered with a pair of runs in the top of the second on consecutive singles from Thomas Doucet and Bowman, an error and a squeeze bunt by Easton Holmes knotted the game.

After both teams traded runs in the third, South Panola gained a 5-3 advantage in the fourth with two runs on three hits. Hunter Ivy led off with a double before Williams drilled a double into deep center to score courtesy runner Turner Rotenberry. Two batters later, Fullilove slapped an RBI single to center that plated Williams.

South Panola collected nine hits on the night while Central Private tallied six. Rip Kirk, Dashawn Lindsay, Fullilove, Cook, Towles and  Pearson all provided singles.

Towles picked up the win in relief of starting pitcher Ivy who surrendered six runs on five hits while fanning seven and walking three in 4.1 innings. Towles (2-0) tossed 2.2 innings allowed one hit and struck out three.

South Panola- 8

Davidson- 3

The Tigers returned Saturday to square off against the Mobile, Ala.- based Warriors at Brandon High School.

South Panola sent ten batters to the plate in a five-run third inning to blow the game open. Williams and Lindsay both singled and doubled leading the Tigers eight hit attack. Macen McGee, Fullilove, Cook and Ivy all provided singles. Wilkerson also drove in a run with a perfect squeeze bunt in the third that scored Tubbs from third.

Davidson got on the board with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth. The Tigers put the game out of reach in the fifth with three runs one three hits. Lindsay led off the inning with a double and later raced home on a single by Ivy. Pearson was hit by a pitch then scored on William’s single while Cook reached on an error and later scored the final run.

McGee earned the pitching victory by tossing four plus innings on the mound. The junior lefty walked six but fanned five while scattering three hits. Sophomore Chase ‘Cookie’ Durham closed out the contest with three solid innings in relief but giving up two hits and fanning one batter.

“Anytime you can go down there and play in that tournament against teams of that quality and come away with two wins, that is a big shot in the arm,” said Reed. “Pez (McGee) found a way to work out of trouble the first two innings before we put together a big inning in the third then he settled down somewhat. We hit the ball well the two games but it seemed like today he hit the ball on the nose better. I feel this was our best game of the year so far,” said Reed.

South Panola played Center Hill and Oxford yesterday in the Oxford Spring Break Tournament before taking on Olive Branch at 2:30 and Southaven at 7 p.m. Thursday in the tournament. 

The Tigers defeated Center Hill 3-2, but the score from the Oxford game was not available at press time.