Photo/Zac Chamblee

The Sumrall Bobcats struggled to string together hits in their season-opener at Hattiesburg on Monday night, but that didn’t seem to matter with Kros Sivley on the mound and seemingly in midseason form for the Bobcats. On the heels of a superb freshman season in 2018, Sivley opened his sophomore campaign with six-plus innings of work and a win over the defending Class 5A State Champion Hattiesburg Tigers, 3-1.

“I told Kros that I didn’t think he threw a game last year where his pitch count was so low,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said. “Normally, we’re having to take him out in the fifth inning because he’s at about 100 pitches.”

Sivley entered Monday’s seventh inning with his pitch count at 76.

“He had no stressful innings,” Knight added. “Seventy-six with one or two stressful innings is different. So we were pleased with that. He’s been through a year of it with the composure and knows how to handle it.”

After Sivley recorded the seventh inning’s first out, Halen Sanford came on in relief, and the East Mississippi signee slammed the door shut, picking up two strikeouts, including one with the potential game-winning run at the plate, to end the game. 

The duo combined for seven strikeouts on the night.

“Tremendous job by Kros, and then very, very proud of Halen stepping in and closing,” Knight said. “Those are gonna be the two guys that carry us a long way, so it’s good to see them get off to a good start.”

Offensively, the Bobcats didn’t have a great start, and Knight points at several reasons for that. 

“I think you can chalk this up a little bit to playing on a cold evening and it being a tough environment. We hit some balls hard too right at some folks.”

Hattiesburg pitchers Jerry Burkett, Landon Rascoe and Caleb Tart limited the Bobcats to just three hits on the night. One was an RBI double from Hunter Barrett that broke a scoreless tie in the second inning. In the fourth, Barrett drew a walk and later came around to score via a Hattiesburg balk, extending Sumrall’s lead to 2-0. 

 

 

In the bottom half of the inning, Hattiesburg cut the lead to 2-1 as Cam Lott scored Keylan McKeller with an RBI single. Like the Bobcats, the Tigers are searching for some answers offensively, too. 

“It’s eight new guys at the plate, and they don’t have the at-bats and experience from year’s past,” Hattiesburg coach Joe Hartfield said. “We’re going to have to find some ways to get it done. I’m proud of them, though. They played hard tonight, and I know our room for improvement is really high compared to most teams.”

In the top of the seventh, Sumrall got some insurance as Graham Crawford led off the inning with a triple, and his pinch-runner, Dannis Jackson, came home on another Hattiesburg balk. 

Trailing 3-1, Hattiesburg tried to rally in their half of the inning. With two out, Jairus McFarland doubled to give the Tigers two base runners, but Halen Sanford followed with a strikeout of Jermel Ford to end the game. 

Despite starting 0-1 and losing on the night their state championship banner was unveiled, Hartfield took some positives away from the game. 

“If we can go out here and play a Sumrall team, who is an experienced team and well-coached with the tradition they have, 3-1….I’m not pleased with losing, but I can work with that. I think we’re on the right path.”

Sumrall improved to 1-0 with the win. 

“We expect our guys to be tough outs and tough strikeouts, and don’t be a guy that just gives in. And we did a little bit of that tonight,” Knight said. “But overall, I’m very, very happy.”