Tigers are District 2-6A runner-ups

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tigers are District 2-6A runner-ups

Weslan Morgan steps on the plate as the ball flies into the third baseman. South Panola wrapped up the second spot in the district as runner ups against Grenada.
The Panolian photo by Glennie Pou

By Brad Greer
Baseball has a funny way of coming full circle from week to week.
After getting peppered for seven runs in his last outing against Hernando two weeks ago, South Panola’s Blaine Ware reversed the role in dramatic fashion as the sophomore turned in a masterful performance  as the Tigers clinched a runner-up spot in District 2-6A with a 1-0 victory over the visiting Tigers Thursday night.
South Panola improved to 8-14 and 6-3 and will take on Region 1 third place finisher Southaven in a best-of-three series this weekend in the opening round of the North 6A playoffs.
Game 1 will be played at South Panola Friday before switching to Southaven Saturday. A third and deciding game, if necessary, moves back to Batesville Monday. First pitch for all games are set for 7 p.m.
South Panola’s lone run came in the bottom of the second as Dalton Barefoot delivered an RBI single that scored Gehrig Griffin who had reached on a two-out error. Braydyn Lee accounted for the Tigers other hit with a single one batter earlier.
The rest of the night belonged to Ware as the southpaw struck out nine on six hits while not allowing a walk.
Perhaps the moment of the contest came in fifth inning as Ware fanned cleanup hitter Ben Brantley  with the bases loaded to preserve the lead.
“Hernando is very good hitting ball  team so I had to keep them off balance with my off speed pitches. I started working backwards by throwing my fastball to set up my curveball and changeup. Everything seemed to worked well tonight. This was a big win tonight,” said Ware.
Equally affective was Hernando starting pitcher Hunter Riggins who fanned 11 while walking one batter. The other South Panola threat came in the fourth inning as Hernado put runners on first and second with one out only to have Riggins escape the jam by fanning the next two batters.
“I am a firm believer that everything starts on the mound and Blaine did an outstanding job of mixing his pitches up and staying ahead in the count. When his stuff is working like it was tonight he is tough to beat,” said Tiger head coach Jake Mills.
The victory also marked the best district finish the Tigers have finished in over 10 years.
“My big thing is I just told them go out and earn your respect. Make the other team respect you just as much as you respect them. Go out there with a chip on your shoulder every game and earn everything you get on the field. We just have to build on tonight’s win and get ready for the playoffs. I feel our offense is coming around. We did not get hits tonight but we got the clutch hit when it counted as Barefoot through in a key moment,” said Mills.
Tiger seniors Justin Bolton, Chris Casiday, Noah Willis, Ryan McCurdy, Tripp Still, James Kyle Browning alone with manager Jordan Tubbs were honored before the varsity game.
SPJV 1, Hernando-1John Culp delivered an RBI single to score Wes Morgan as the Tigers battled to a 1-1 tie. Culp also registered a singled in the second.
Hernando got on the board in the fourth before South Panola tied it up in the bottom half of the inning as Morgan single then advanced to second on a throwing error before scoring on Culp’s single.
Denver Brown, Luke Weldon and Gage  Heath singled for South Panola.
Dawson Griffin tossed three innings followed by Caleb White for one inning in relief.
In a late scheduling addition, South Panola will close out the regular season tonight at Lafayette County beginning at 5 & 7 p.m.

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