The Meridian Star
Tuesday's game against Hattiesburg was one Meridian High School baseball needed to win – it's also one first-year head coach Robert Cole and his players would like to have back.
The Wildcats fell to Hattiesburg 8-1 at home, dropping their record to 5-12 (1-6) on the season. More importantly for Meridian, the loss now puts the 'Cats a game behind the Tigers 8-11 (2-5) with two games to play in the Region 5 6A standings. Meridian will now need to win its remaining two games against Oak Grove and Petal and hope that Hattiesburg loses to Oak Grove and Laurel in order to make the playoffs.
“It was our time to either win it or lose it, and we pretty much stunk the place up,” Cole said. “If you are going to play in the big games, you have to bring your A-game. We did not do that tonight.”
Meridian dug itself a big hole in the first inning, as the Wildcats committed two costly errors allowing the Tigers to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Hattiesburg got its first run when Meridian catcher Aaron Garrett overthrew third base on a steal attempt by Hattiesburg's Brandon Acker, allowing the right fielder to score. After an RBI single by Jamol Posey scored the Tigers' second run, Meridian would allow the Tigers to score on a bad pick-off attempt.
Meridian would get a run back in the bottom of the inning, as Kendrick Walk started the inning off with a leadoff single and got to third base on a bad pick-off attempt. Corey Davis brought Walk home the next at baton an RBI ground out. However, that would be all the offense Meridian could muster on the night.
“It all comes down to, whatever happens, you got to fight,” Cole said. “Our guys didn't fight tonight. Their guys got up, they turned it up a notch, and out guys just laid back and let it happen.”
Meridian had opportunities in the fifth and sixth innings, as the Wildcats loaded the bases in both times but could not produce a run.
“If we don't hit the ball, we don't win,” Meridian center fielder J-Mar Smith said. “That's the biggest thing that hurt us tonight. Hattiesburg did good, they put the ball over the plate, and we are supposed to hit it. We got to put runs on the board, and we didn't do that today, and that's why we lost.”
Smith provided the Wildcats lone bright spot on the night, going 2/3 with a walk and a double.
Despite the Wildcats slim playoff odd, Cole said his team will play hard the remainder of the year. While the Wildcats might have their season cut shorter than they had planned, players know there is still plenty to play for in the remaining games.
“We just got to fight for next year,” Smith said. “Everybody has to earn their spot for next year. To the seniors, I hope they have a good rest of the year and do something with their life when they leave here.”