Photo/Zac Chamblee

For Sumrall, hits were few and far between Friday against Northeast Jones, but that didn’t stop the Bobcats from opening the second round of the 4A playoffs with an emphatic win. Behind a whopping 15 walks—six of which came with the bases juiced—the Bobcats (27-4) crushed Northeast Jones, 12-0, in five innings and will now go for the series sweep on Saturday. 

“We knew they certainly had a good team coming in,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said of Northeast Jones. “The nerves got to them I think tonight, and they started pressing. They have a young group of pitchers for the most part that we saw tonight. I think the bigness of the game got to them some, but I was proud of our guys for at least not swinging at some bad pitches.”

After Sumrall starting pitcher Halen Sanford stranded two NEJ baserunners in the top of the first inning, the Bobcats plated five runs in the bottom of the frame. Mason Story and Seth Mitchell drew bases-loaded walks, and three Sumrall runners scored on one NEJ fielding error. 

The Bobcats didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal in the second inning. After Dannis Jackson drew a leadoff walk, Zane Berry drove him in with one of Sumrall’s four hits on the night, an RBI triple. Berry then scored on a wild pitch. Story, Mitchell and Berry followed with bases-loaded walks, and Tanner Morgan added a sacrifice-fly to put the Bobcats up 11-0 in the second. 

Mitchell drew his third walk with the bases juiced in the third, extending it to 12-0. 

Big lead in hand, Sanford bounced back from a disappointing start in Sumrall’s Game 2 loss to Pass Christian last Saturday, going the distance (5 innings) with five strikeouts while scattering four hits against NEJ. In addition to the first inning, the Tigers threatened to score in the fifth as they loaded the bases with two out, but Sanford got a fly-out to keep them off the scoreboard and end the game.

“It was good to see him come back and compete,” Knight said of Sanford. “He’s pitched real well for us at home, and I’m proud of the job he did tonight, because he only went two innings last week.”

Not just for Sanford, Knight said the Pass Christian loss was a wake-up call for their entire team. 

“Last Saturday was partly my blame for maybe not bringing the guys in and focusing on some things,” Knight said. “Tomorrow, we’re gonna do that. We’re gonna take some BP out here and get ready [for Game 2].”

First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm at Northeast Jones. 

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