Walker Gable deadened an otherwise hot-hitting Calhoun City team in his complete-game performance on the mound Wednesday morning at Trustmark Park in Pearl. With ample run support behind Gable, Taylorsville used small-ball techniques and nine hits at the plate to beat Calhoun City 8-1 in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 2A Championship series.
The Tartars lead the best-of-three championship series, 1-0.
“[Walker Gable’s performance] was big for us,” said Taylorsville head coach Dusty Hillman. “Calhoun City can certainly swing the bat, but Walker was on his game. He filled the strike zone up and threw two or three pitches for strikes most of the day.”
Gable kept Calhoun City to just five hits in the seven-inning contest. The Wildcats came into the Championship series batting .403 as a team. The senior righty allowed one unearned run and shelled out seven strikeouts.
“I knew I had to throw strikes,” said Gable. “I just threw the ball over the plate. It’s hard to hit when you throw them off. I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes. When you do that, it’s hard [for opponents] to hit.”
Taylorsville gained an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. After Branson Sharpley laced a triple over Calhoun City’s right fielder to lead off the game, a throwing error by the catcher to third base moments later resulted in the game’s first run.
Gable helped his cause on the mound in the fourth, driving in a run on a ground ball with all three bases occupied. Calhoun City narrowed Taylorsville’s two-run lead in the next frame on a bases-loaded RBI ground ball by Jobi Cook. With no outs on the board, Taylorsville tried for the double play and got it thanks to an interference call by the umpire as Calhoun City’s runner going to second base fell to slide. The call, questioned by Wildcat head coach Josh Miller, led to his ejection.
In the top of the sixth, a half-swing ground ball by Kenner Todd – serving just as good as a sacrifice bunt with runners in scoring position – scored the Tartars’ third run of the day. Gable’s sacrifice bunt in an at-bat prior to Todd’s moved runners into scoring position.
Hillman commented on his team’s small-ball approach on occasions.
“We had to play small ball at times,” Hillman said. “In this situation, playing another great team in a championship, you have to get runs across any way you can. You got to be able to do those things. We worked on that quite a bit later in the season. And it has come up big for us in the playoffs.”
Taylorsville added five insurance runs in the top of the seventh, including a base-clearing hit by Aiden Moffett, mixed in with two errors by Calhoun City.
“Those runs were big,” said Hillman. “We had chances although the day, and give their pitcher credit. He pitched around errors in the field. It just fell our way in that one inning. Aiden came up with that big hit [in the seventh] and opened it up for us. That gave us some lax.”
Moffett led Taylorsville at the plate with two hits and two RBI.
“It helps [as a pitcher] to have your team give you insurance runs,” said Gable. “It gives you confidence and gives a boost to the dugout. We just had some fun today.”
With the win, Taylorsville is one game away from its first state title since 2014. The Tartars have six to-date (1990, 1997, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2014), three under Hillman at command.
Game 2 between Taylorsville and Calhoun City is slated for Friday at 1 p.m.