The Meridian Star
PEARL – —
After being shutout less than 24 hours earlier, the Newton County Cougars used a 10-inning affair to force a Game 3 in the Class 4A championship series, topping Lewisburg, 2-1, in Game 2 at Trustmark Park.
“Unbelievable,” Cougar head coach Wyatt Tullos said. “That was great, that was wild, that was fun … it’s championship baseball, it’s great stuff.”
With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, two base running spoofs put the Cougars walk-off in jeopardy, but the Patriots couldn’t convert an out.
“As crazy as that game way, nothing surprised me,” Tullos said. “You’ll take any break you can get in a game like that.”
Dan Nelson grounded into a fielder’s choice, taken at home plate for the first out of the inning, leaving the bases loaded for Cain Cleveland.
After showing bunt and fouling off the pitch, Cleveland flied out to center field allowing Reagan Warren to tag up for the walk-off victory, 2-1.
“We had a couple chances, well we had a bunch of chances, and they did too,” Tullos said. “Both teams played tough on D, both teams held the rope. We finally were able to poke that one in.”
Earlier, the Cougars worked themselves out of their own dicey situation while on defense in the sixth inning.
The Patriots' Rudy Martin doubled to open the inning, allowing Hunter Wilson to drive him home with a single off Cougar starter Peyton Cain.
Tullos then pulled Cain in favor of Wednesday’s starter Will Brand, who had thrown just 78 pitches the previous night.
With no outs and Wilson representing the go-ahead run at second after advancing on the throw to home, Tullos wanted to set up a force play to end the inning, but that required intentionally walking two batters.
“That’s a situation we could have gotten beat right there,” Tullos said. “We wanted to get it to a point where we could end the [inning] with one play.”
Which is exactly what happened.
Brand struck out Colt Smith and got Koby Busby at first, who dropped a bunt just in front of the pitcher’s mound to end the inning.
“I was a little nervous, but I trusted my stuff, trusted my coaches and knew we were going to get out of that,” Brand said.
But freshman Jacob Edwards would be the eventual winner.
He moved from shortstop to pitcher for the ninth inning and earned the 1-2-3 inning with the help of catcher Cale Hollingsworth nailing Chris Taylor attempting to steal second base. Edwards returned in the tenth to face four batters for three outs.
In the second inning, the Cougars struck early. Dan Nelson singled himself onto the base paths and advanced to second on a botched pickoff attempt. Nelson would score from third later in the inning, as a pass ball drove in Newton County’s first run of the championship series.
Cain threw five innings, with two strikeouts, two walks and four hits on one earned run. He retired the side in the third and fifth innings. Brand went three innings with three strikeouts and one hit.
Game 3 will be played Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Trustmark Park.