Four-run lead in hand, the PCS Bobcats appeared well on their way to opening their playoff semifinal versus MRA with a bang Tuesday night. Then the sixth and seventh inning happened. Trailing 5-1, the Patriots rallied with 12 unanswered runs on the way to taking Game 1 in Hattiesburg, 13-6.
With RBI from Wes Walters and Brady Logan, plus three runs off three MRA errors in the third inning, the Bobcats built a seemingly comfortable lead, but it lasted only two innings. MRA’s Stone Blanton cut it to 5-4 with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, and two batters later, Jake Carr gave the Patriots their first lead, 6-5, with a two-run blast. They never trailed again and blew the game wide-open in the seventh, plating seven runs on just five hits.
“We had it going for five [innings], but unfortunately you gotta play seven,” PCS coach Jarrett Hoffpauir said. “That’s kinda been our deal all year. We’ve talked about playing seven full innings. We didn’t play bad [tonight], we had a couple things and balls we misplayed.
“And that snowball got rolling and turned into an avalanche.”
With the possibility of playing two games on Wednesday, Hoffpauir says the plan was to ride Tuesday’s starting pitcher, Jeffrey Diamond, as long as they could. In the end, Diamond went five innings and was replaced by Harper Jordan after giving up Blanton’s homer. Had PCS held on to the slim, 5-4 lead heading into the seventh, Hoffpauir planned to use one of their top arms, Holden Dykes, out of the bullpen to close out the win. But with Carr’s blast, Dykes never got the chance.
Instead, the Meridian Community College signee is likely to start Game 2 of the series, which is scheduled for 4:30 pm on Wednesday at MRA. If the Bobcats can bounce back and win that one, a decisive Game 3 will immediately follow, with the winner advancing to the state championship series. Along with Dykes, Jake Riley Gunn, another go-to arm for PCS, will be available Wednesday.
“Anytime those guys are on the mound, we’ve got a chance,” Hoffpauir said. “They’ve gotta go deep in the game, that’s the bottom line. We’ve gotta score some runs. That’s a pretty dang good ball club over there. We’ll see what we can do I guess.”