Tomcats force quarterfinal game 3
By Jody O'Hara
May 16, 2013, 10:47
There's no quit in these 'Cats.
The Stone High baseball team rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 5-3 victory over Pascagoula Monday in game 2 of the state 5A quarterfinal.
The win forced game 3, scheduled for Tuesday night at Pascagoula, to determine which team will advance to the South State championship series.
Stone trailed 1-0 after the first inning and didn't get on the scoreboard until Justin Evans sent a sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom of the fifth, scoring Tyler Spring from third.
Then, the Pascagoula pitcher released the ball toward third base during his warmup, the umpire called a balk and Riley Hill was sent home to make it 2-1.
The Panthers retook the lead in the top of the sixth when Corley Reynolds liner to right-center field scored two runners to give Pascagoula a 3-2 lead.
That set up the sixth-inning rally which would decide the game.
Brycen Burge grounded out to short, Lucas Kirkland reached on an error by the second baseman and advanced to second on Tyler Ishee's single to right field.
"Lucas beating out that throw was key," said Stone Coach Kevin Conard. "I know it was charged an error, but his hustle got him to first and he's been doing that sort of thing all year."
Kirkland then stole third and Tyler Spring drew a walk to load the bases.
Kyle Morrison singled to right to score Kirkland and tie the game.
A play that looked like it would end the inning with the score tied at three proved to be the decisive play of the game as Tyler O'Neal hit the ball to the Panthers' third baseman who let the ball get through his legs and roll into left field, allowing Ishee and Spring to score.
All that was left was for Peyton Owen to come in and close down the Panthers' and the Tomcats found themselves with a chance to play one more game.
"If you tell me we've got one game to go to South State, I'll take it every day," Conard said. "We have been so up and down all season but when we have been given an opportunity, these guys have shown they've got what it takes."
Justin Smith got the win for the Tomcats, working six innings.
"He's had soreness and tenderness in his shoulder but he's a competitor," Conard said. "He told me before we got rained out Friday that he wanted the ball in game 2.
He's one of the most competitive kids I've ever met; if you were flipping quarters or throwing lawn darts, he'd trip you to win."
The winner of Tuesday's game will move on to face the winner between Picayune and South Jones for the South State title.
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