The Meridian Star
Rain delayed the Meridian Spikes' Monday-night matchup against the Hub City River Cats by an hour, but Meridian native Witt Haggard kept the hometown faithful on the edge of their soggy seats till the very end.
Coming into the bottom of the seventh inning with a one-run lead, Haggard allowed the River Cats to put runners on first and third with no outs before striking out the next three batters to close out the Spikes’ last game at Southeast Lauderdale Field with an 8-7 win.
“I had to rear back a little more,” Haggard said of the jam. “I knew I had to strike out the first and after that I could set up the double play, but I knew I had to strike that first guy out.”
Meridian jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after three innings behind starting pitcher Hunter Graham.
The East Central hurler made quick work of the River Cats early on allowing just one hit through his first three innings. However, a shaky start to the fourth saw Graham walk the bases loaded with no outs before he was relived by Andrew Greek.
Greek would strike out the first batter he faced but was not able to pull himself out of the jam, as the River Cats rallied for seven runs to take a 7-5 lead after four innings.
The Spikes needed to rally back in the bottom of the fifth, and did as Grant Hill led off the inning with a single followed by walks from Terrence Steele and Zach May.
Kevin Lee Henson then singled to cut the lead to 7-6 and Todd Hughes blooped a single to center in the next at bat to tie the game at seven.
Two batters later, with one out, Maxwell Harmon laced a single to right to put the Spikes on top for good, 8-7.
Dustin Smith earned the win for Meridian, striking out four over two innings before handing the ball over to Haggard in the top of the seventh.
“I thought we played really good minus that one inning,” Meridian head coach Colton Mitchell said. “Tonight we made some mistakes, but it was good to be able to come back like we did.”