BREAKING NEWS 5-Tigers take down LC

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2016

Kyle Weaver was all smiles as he rounded third base after a homerun against Lake Cormorant Wednesday in the Oxford Spring Break Invitational. South Panola won that slugfest 16-10 and then went on to down No. 7 nationally-ranked Oxford 5-3. Photo by Jeff Eubanks, SPSD

South Panola’s Chris Brown gets the runner from Lake Cormorant out at second and throws back down to first to attempt a double-play. Photo by Jeff Eubanks SPSD

Tigers take down LC, nationally ranked Oxford in slugfest

By Brad Greer
There are times throughout the course of a baseball season where one game can turn the whole year around. Wednesday might have been one of those times for the South Panola baseball team.
Led by a gritty pitching performance from Chase Durham, the Tigers stunned defending 5A state champion and nationally ranked Oxford 5-3 in the Oxford Spring Break Tournament. South Panola made it a sweep of the day by outslugging Lake Cormorant 16-10 earlier in the day.
Cole Rotenberry’s two-run RBI single in the sixth proved to be the difference maker as Durham escaped a bases loaded one out jam in the bottom of the seventh to secure the biggest win so far for  the Tigers who improved their record to 4-6 on the year. Oxford, who started out the year ranked No.1 in the nation according to, fell to 8-4.
With South Panola clinging to a 5-3 lead, Durham enticed Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection Thomas Dillard to bounce into a first basemen to catcher game ending double play. Despite walking nine batters, Durham limited the hard-hitting Chargers to two hits on the night.
“I just went out there with the mindset of letting them hit the ball and having my defense do the rest,” said Durham, who also struck out four batters. “ We knew who we were facing tonight and this is by far the best team we have played all season. Those guys can flat out hit the baseball, but this is proof if we play together as a team everytime we step on the field we have a chance to beat anybody,” said Durham.
South Panola took a 2-0 lead in the fourth off Oxford starting pitcher Drew Bianco as Mason Wilkerson led off the inning with a walk and later scored on Durham’s RBI single. Kyle Weaver accounted for the other run by reaching on a fielder’s choice before racing home on an error.
Oxford scored all its runs in the fifth inning on a pair of hits as leadoff hitter Grey Kessinger broke up Durham’s no-hit bid with a RBI single. Bianco tied the game at 2-2 with a sacrifice fly before Dillard gave the Chargers the lead with a run-scoring single to right.
The Tigers then retook the lead in the sixth as Zach Hopper led off the frame with a single then advanced to second on Jacob Fennel’s sacrifice bunt. Walks to Nathan Herron and Noah Willis loaded the bases before an errant pickoff throw from the Chargers catcher Dillard allowed pinch runner Brayden Locke to score from third to tie the game at 3-3.
South Panola collected six hits in the game as Wilkerson, Weaver and Willis added singles. The Tigers left nine runners on base while committing one error. Freshman catcher Braydyn Lee came up big for South Panola by making key outs on popups behind the plate.
South Panola 16, Lake Cormorant 10
  The Tigers opening game of the tournament turned out to be a slugfest as South Panola blew a 9-1 lead in the fifth inning only to score six runs in the seventh to break open a 10-10 contest.
Turner Rotenberry delivered the big blow in the inning with a three-run blast to left. Three batters later, Kyle Weaver put the finishing touches on the game as he blasted a two-run homerun also to left. Rotenberry walked four times while scoring five times as South Panola pounded out ten hits. Weaver added a pair of singles and drove in four runs.
Both teams plated a run in the first before South Panola struck for three runs in the third and five in the top of the fifth to take a 9-1 lead. Lake Cormorant roared back with nine runs over the next two innings to tie the contest at 10-10.
 Rotenberry got the starting nod on the mound and went 5.1 innings, giving up nine runs on nine hits while striking out six batters. Luke Daniels tossed 1.2 innings in relief to garner the win. Durham drove in three runs with two singles while Hopper delivered a pair of singles and one RBI. Fennel chipped in with a single and two RBI’s while Willis singled and scored two runs. James Kyle Browning scored one run in pinch running role.
 The Tigers concluded the four-day tournament Thursday with a pair of games against Southaven and Olive Branch. South Panola opens Region 2-6A play Tuesday at home versus Tupelo beginning at 4 and 6 p.m.  

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