The zeros were stacking up Tuesday night at Larry Knight Field, as Sumrall and Purvis played inning after inning without scoring a single run. It was a slightly unexpected pitcher’s duel, according to Tornado head coach Tony Farlow.
“Coming into it, I didn’t know. I didn’t know if we could hold Sumrall down or not,” Farlow said. “I know they hit the baseball.”
Safe to say Farlow’s pitching staff was up to the challenge. Jesse Johnson and Dakota Lee combined to throw a shutout, as Purvis, who took control offensively with a three-run ninth inning, escaped with a 3-0 win.
“This was a great game,” Farlow said. “You gotta give Sumrall credit, too. Both of their pitchers did really well, and both of ours were lights out also. It was a great pitching duel.”
Johnson, a sophomore, got the start on the mound for Purvis, while freshman Kros Sivley got the nod for Sumrall. Sivley struck out eight batters in six scoreless innings of work. His counterpart, Johnson, went a step further, striking out nine batters in seven near-perfect innings.
“I had my mind set that I was going to do something big tonight,” Johnson said of his performance. “I think I did it.”
Due to a high pitch count though, Johnson was pulled in the eighth inning and replaced by another sophomore, the aforementioned Dakota Lee, who went two innings and picked up the win in relief.
All in all, Lee and Johnson held Sumrall to just four hits on the night.
“I was just really amazed by how well my pitchers threw tonight,” Farlow said. “That’s two of the best performances I’ve seen out of a starter and reliever at Purvis in a long time.
“They both kind of had it in their eyes tonight. You could see they really wanted it.”
It took going into extra innings, but Purvis finally seized control in the ninth inning. Two runs came home via Sumrall errors, and another was the result of a sacrifice-fly off the bat of Keyshawn Bolar.
“I’m just tickled that our team fought until the end and hung around for nine innings to have a chance to win it over here,” Farlow added.
Pitching and defense neutralized any offensive struggles the Tornadoes had, said Johnson.
“We didn’t hit the ball real good, but look at the score. We did pretty good.”
Purvis improved to 10-2 overall and 2-1 in district with the win, while Sumrall is now 11-3 overall and 2-1 in district.
Both teams will meet up again this Friday night at Purvis. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 pm.