After scoring six early runs and following with four scoreless innings Thursday against Poplarville, the Sumrall Bobcats made a point of not letting their foot off the gas in Friday’s rematch. Seven different Bobcats drove in at least one run in the second inning as Sumrall put up a nine spot en route to a 13-3 win and a season sweep of the Hornets.
“We kinda sat on our lead a little bit last night,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said. “Then we scored some late, and we talked about today not letting up.
“When you play back-to-back nights, it’s not something you’re used to when it’s a division game. It happens, but also that happens when it comes playoff time as well. Those are things I’m glad we get to experience right now to see how we handle things.”
If the second inning was any clear indicator, the Bobcats handled the challenge quite well. The team sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame. For reference, Sumrall starting pitcher Halen Sanford faced the minimum (nine batters) in his first three innings of work.
Javan Williams highlighted the outburst with a bases-clearing double. Graham Crawford added a two-run double and Mason Story an RBI double. The rest of the Bobcats’ runs in the inning came either from bases-loaded walks or hit-by-pitches.
In the third inning, the Bobcats turned around and added two more via a two-run single from Seth Mitchell, which extended Sumrall’s lead to 11-0.
It was more than enough run support for Sanford, who allowed his first hit with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Later in the frame, with Poplarville base runners on second and third, the East Mississippi signee added one of his six strikeouts in the game to keep the Hornets scoreless.
The Hornets then loaded the bases in the fifth, and they took advantage of the situation. Tyson Holston got Poplarville on the board with an RBI single, and Canaan Ray followed with a two-run double to cut Sumrall’s lead to 11-3. Sanford answered with a strikeout and groundout to keep the damage minimal.
“I think it’s one of those deals where you’ve got an 11-0 lead and maybe he wasn’t quite as focused,” Knight said. “And they [Poplarville] got some guys that can swing it pretty good. They had some good at-bats.
“I had to go out there and get him refocused. He got out of it, and we responded offensively, too.”
Needing two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to win via the 10-run rule, the Bobcats scored one off a Poplarville error and another off Javan Williams’ third hit of the night. The junior finished 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI.
“Javan is a guy coming into this season that’s been a sleeper for us,” Knight said. “In practice, we really saw how he swung the bat well. For a while there, we had him in the four-hole or five-hole. We dropped him down a little bit because he had a rough night last night, but him and Hunter Barrett have been pretty solid. If one of them’s not swinging, the other is. Tonight, really both of them did.”
Sumrall improved to 11-2 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-4A play with the win.