The positives far outweighed the negatives for Oak Grove Monday night. Twice the Warriors trailed by two runs against Sumrall, and twice they battled back. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Warriors hadn’t practiced since last Wednesday, so head coach Chris McCardle expected some rust heading into the county showdown.
“I thought we were flat,” McCardle said. “I figured we would be, even though we were playing Sumrall. It took a while. I had to talk to them a little bit and fuss a little bit to get them going. I thought we competed well.”
In a 5-5 ballgame, Ty Scott drove in the go-ahead run for Oak Grove in the bottom of the sixth inning and proceeded to close the game out in the seventh, preserving a 6-5 win for the Warriors.
Scott entered the game in relief for starter Turner Swistak at the start the sixth and did not give up a single hit in two innings of work. In the top of the seventh, after Sumrall got the possible game-tying run on first base with nobody out, Scott induced a ground ball which shortstop Tate Ryder turned into a crucial double play. Scott followed with a strikeout, his second of the contest, to end the game.
“I was really pleased with Ty Scott and the way he came in. He came in and did a really, really good job against a good hitting team,” McCardle said. “Biggest thing also for Ty Scott, he had an 0-2 count with the bases loaded, and he worked the count to 3-2. He ended up hitting the ball hard and they made a mistake. It gave us the go-ahead run.”
McCardle also gave a shoutout to Ryder, who just recently made the move to shortstop.
“We’ve been searching all year to find one, and I think we’ve found a good one [in Tate Ryder].”
Back and forth game
It didn’t take Sumrall very long to take its first lead Monday night. The Bobcats opened the top of the first inning with two runs after an RBI single from Graham Crawford and a Billy Garrity sac-fly.
Oak Grove answered in its half of the third when Tanner Slay cleared a bases loaded situation with a three-run double. Through three innings of play, the Warriors led 3-2.
The very next inning, Crawford added his second and third RBI of the night off a two-run single for Sumrall. Then, Dannis Jackson came around to score, making it 5-3 in favor of the Bobcats.
In the fifth, Oak Grove tied it, 5-5, off of Hayes Maples’ third home run of the year, a two-run shot over the left field fence.
“They were trying to throw the ball outside to Hayes, and they threw it inside. He hammered it,” McCardle said. “It’s a game of inches, man. It’s amazing how one little inch or two changes the whole outcome of the game.”
An inning later, Oak Grove loaded the bases but could only push one run across. It proved to be the game-winner off the bat of Ty Scott.
Oak Grove improved to 14-7 with the win and will next face Warren Central on Tuesday before hosting Hattiesburg on Thursday. Having earned a first round playoff bye, the Warriors await their first challenger in the Class 6A playoffs. That matchup will come next weekend.
“I’m happy with the outcome [Monday night], but we’ve gotta get the train moving a little better,” McCardle said. “I think they understand that, that we gotta get rolling for next week.”
Sumrall (19-7) will be back in action Tuesday night at Sacred Heart. The Bobcats will open the Class 4A playoffs on Friday at home against Raymond.