Run support hasn’t been nearly as vital to Sumrall’s Kros Sivley as other starting pitchers this season. According to MaxPreps, Sivley boasts the state’s lowest earned run average (0.27) through 31 games and 53 innings pitched.
So more often than not, a single run each game is all the freshman phenom has needed this year. That was the case Saturday night in a do-or-die situation for the Bobcats, who needed a win against West Lauderdale to extend their season and force a game three in their Class 4A second round playoff matchup.
Behind a complete game shutout from Sivley and a solo home run from Graham Crawford in the sixth inning, Sumrall did just that, winning a 1-0 thriller at Larry Knight Field.
Bobcat head coach Larry Knight expected a low-scoring affair coming into the matchup, especially with Sivley on the mound.
“We felt like if Kros goes out there and pitches like he’s capable of pitching, that it would maybe be a 2-1 game or maybe 1-0 like it was,” Knight said. “You can’t say enough about him and the job he did tonight.
“At 14-years-old, nothing fazes him. He’s out there having fun with great location and great stuff.”
Coming into the season, Knight said the expectation was for Sivley to start on Saturdays in non-division games and see action out of the bullpen in division play. Now, about a week into the postseason, he’s pretty much undoubtedly the Bobcats’ top arm, the type of pitcher that starts in a must-win situation against the defending champs.
“I remember in intersquads during the year when he’d strike a couple of us out, and we’d mess with him,” said junior Graham Crawford. “We’d be saying, ‘Man, you’re going to be good’. But we never expected him to be the guy he is coming in [to the playoffs]. He’s definitely doing the job for us.”
Crawford’s fourth home run of the season, a solo jack in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowed Sivley to improve to 8-0 on the year.
“I figured he’d give me a fastball,” Crawford said of his approach. “He got me down 2-0 with a bad changeup and a bad fastball. So I knew he was going to try to get me over on one, because I had been 0-for-2 all night. When he grooved one, I was ready for it.
“That’s definitely the biggest home run of my career. Hopefully more to come, but that’s the biggest so far.”
It sends Sumrall to another must-win situation in game three, which will be played Monday night at West Lauderdale. First pitch is scheduled for 7 pm.
“You’d much rather win game two than lose it when going to a game three,” Knight said. “It’s a good feeling, but we know it’s going to be tough, because they [West Lauderdale] are hard to beat at their place as well.”