For a brief moment, Purvis sophomore Jesse Johnson called his walk-off, three-run home run against area rival Oak Grove on Saturday the most memorable of his young career. Then, he thought back to his Little League days and took a step back.
“This one time in the Little League World Series, I hit a walk-off,” Johnson said. “That was so epic. That would be number one, this would be number two right here.”
Number two delivered yet another thrilling win for the Tornadoes, who, as head coach Tony Farlow put it, were “outplayed for six and a half innings”.
“I think we must have stayed out all night after the win last night. That’s the way we looked today.”
Except that last half inning, the bottom of the seventh, where the Tornadoes came to life. Down four runs at 6-2 and to their final three outs, Purvis went into rally mode. First, a run came home on an Oak Grove error. Then, another off a Ty Howell RBI single, which cut the Warrior lead to 6-4. Finally, with two runners on base, Johnson came to the plate looking to complete the rally with one swing of his bat.
“I was like, ‘All I gotta do is connect with it’. After I got through two [pitches], I really didn’t think I was going to do anything with it, actually,” Johnson said. “I kept fouling it off and thought I’d strikeout.”
Instead, he hit the second most memorable home run of his career, giving Purvis a 7-6 win.
“I hit the ball, and I was like, ‘Yes. Good. Thank God’.”
Following a pair of dramatic wins over Sumrall, Farlow thought some of the craziness from the past week could spill over into Saturday’s game. He was right.
“Somehow, things have kind of fell our way a little bit lately,” Farlow said. “We’re going to take it, because we couldn’t catch a break last year.”
Purvis improved to 12-2 overall with the win. Johnson led the way offensively with his four RBIs and aforementioned home run, his sixth of the season.
“I’m seeing the ball really good. It looked like a beachball today,” Johnson added. “I’m glad I’m hitting the ball, and hopefully I can keep it up.”
On the other side, Oak Grove, who fell to 8-5 with the loss, was led by two-hit performances from Tanner Slay, Turner Swistak and John Rhys Plumlee. Hayes Maples drove in two runs for the Warriors.