Story by Buster Wolfe
Coach Larry Knight said Friday night he isn’t sure which Sumrall baseball team will board the bus Saturday for the 2 p.m. do-or-die showdown at St. Stanislaus in the third round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Will it be the team that crushed the Rock-a-Chaws 11-1 in five innings Thursday in the first game of the best-of-three series? Or will the same squad that lost its first playoff game of the year at home Friday night 5-3 show up?
“You never know with high school kids,” Knight said after the Friday night loss. “We found that out throughout this playoff time. We come out and play well, and we come out and not play too well. It’s just the first time it’s happened at home.”
Knight said his pitching staff did well – minus the four-run fourth inning.
“We struggled and gave up four runs,” he said. “Other than that, we did a solid job.”
St. Stanislaus cracked the scoreboard early, scoring one run in the second inning on an errant pickoff attempt at first base by Bobcat pitcher Halen Sanford. The Rock-a-Chaws’ Corban O’Bannon had advanced to third base after reaching on a single to right field and a pair of bases-on-balls.
With two outs, Sanford went wide on the throw to first base for the pickoff and O’Bannon scored for the 1-0 St. Stanislaus lead. Sanford was tagged with the loss on the mound.
Sumrall answered in the bottom of the third inning with a run on a botched suicide squeeze bunt. Centerfielder Dannis Jackson, an Ole Miss football signee, singled, and then he stole second and third base with no throws. Jackson started running to steal home and batter Graham Crawford squared to bunt.
However, the bunt attempt failed with a high pitch, and Jackson seemed dead to rights. Peyton Sandrock, the St. Stanislaus pitcher, was called for a balk and Jackson scored the first Bobcats run. Sandrock, who went the initial four innings for St. Stanislaus, was the winning pitcher.
Knight said the Bobcats work on suicide squeeze plays during practices.
“It wasn’t exactly the way we drew it up,” he said. “We did not have the runner at first going, which we wanted to do. It worked out and got us a run. We had to scratch and claw, unfortunately, and we never got the big hit to make a difference there.”
In the top of the fourth inning, St. Stanislaus put together three singles, a walk and an infield hit to score the four runs and go ahead 5-1. Sumrall answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a walk, a single and a fielder’s choice to pull within 5-2.
The final run of the game for the Bobcats came in the sixth inning after designated hitter Seth Mitchell reached on a base-on-balls. Three batters – and three walks – later, Mitchell scored with the eventual 5-3 final score.
Jackson went 3-for-3 at the plate – all singles – for Sumrall, followed by a single each from Tanner Morgan, Graham Crawford and Billy Garrity.