Meridian Star

March 5, 2014

Smith’s slide gives Northeast 4-3 win in extra innings vs. Neshoba Central

By Reed DeSalvo \ The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star

— MERIDIAN — Northeast Lauderdale High School shortstop Ben Smith rounded third in a flurry and sprinted towards the plate after Neshoba Central High School second baseman Sammy Singleton misplayed a sharp groundball hit his way.

Smith managed to dislodge the incoming throw from catcher Austin Harrison on his slide, giving the Trojans a 4-3 eight-inning victory.

"I thought I was hosed," Smith said. "I thought that I didn't have a chance of being safe. But I believed in coach, and I came around (third) and saw that (the second baseman) bobbled it and just kept going."

Northeast (2-1) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Ben Smith crossed home plate before Kyle Fuller could be tagged out, following Fuller being caught in a run-down.

The Rockets (3-1), who defeated Quitman High School, 8-5, earlier that night, responded with three runs of their own in the third. Brett Ramia scored on a Taylor Irby RBI groundout, Preston Anderson scored on a Northeast fielding error, and Colby Kilpatrick raced home on Austin Harrison's sacrifice fly.

"It was a hard-fought game," Neshoba coach Justin Stovall said. "They played well. We played well. But we didn't execute at the plate. Too many strikeouts. We didn't execute on the little things."

Yet Northeast would not be deterred, answering with a pair of runs in the fourth to tie the game. With the bases loaded, LaDale Cockrell was hit by a pitch by pitcher Brady Stephenson, sending Luke Harper home, and Lane Gordon scampered cross the plate following a wild pitch from Stephenson.

Both runs scored after two outs were recorded in the inning

"I'm proud of our guys," Northeast coach Josh Snider said. "They never gave up."

Relief pitchers Blake Sanders, of Northeast, and Ryan Montgomery, of Neshoba, kept the game tied 3-3 until Smith crossed home for the game-winning run in extra innings.

 "We found a way to win there in the end," Snider said. "I've been telling these guys since we started that we may not be as talented as other teams, but our motto has been, 'Find a way'. At the end, we didn't try to do too much and just put the ball in play and found a way to win. Not trying to be the hero — that's how we're going to be successful with this team."