Perennial power Sumrall knocks out Northeast in second round

Northeast Jones coach Jeremy Parker knew that his team would have to play an almost perfect two games to beat perennial power Sumrall and advance to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs.

The Tigers’ performances weren’t close to perfect, but after giving up 15 walks — six with the bases loaded — and being drubbed 12-0 in five innings on Friday night, they went down swinging Saturday before falling 6-3.

They battled back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie it at 3-all in the third and were fired up before an unexpected delay of about 30 minutes. In between the top and bottom of the fifth inning, home-plate umpire Styron Keller doubled over and grabbed his chest. After trainer Kirk Landrum and coaches went out to check on him, he walked over and sat down in the Bobcats’ dugout and got a couple of bags of ice. After staying there for about 10 minutes or so, he was escorted from the stadium to go to the hospital. After a prayer for him over the PA, David Overtsreet replaced Keller behind the plate and play resumed with a two-man crew calling the game.

“It was such an odd occurrence,” Parker said. “He was doing a good job and we certainly hope he’s OK … but it definitely stopped some momentum that we had.”

Joey Withers led off the third with a single to right then leadoff man followed by reaching on an error at third. Dayvis McLeod ripped a run-scoring single to left then catcher Tyler Harper drilled a two-run double to the gap in right-center to tie it. Dylan Greer then reached on a dropped popup at second, and after getting the first out, the inning ended on a bizarre double play. 

Starting pitcher Brady Blackwell hit a high popup that was on the border of short right field and deep second base. The ball was dropped and Harper’s courtesy runner Dawson Brooks took off for third. He was called out in a bang-bang play and Blackwell was called out on the infield fly rule, even though no umpire was heard calling the rule while the ball was in the air.

“Both teams struggled with the wind today,” Parker said.

After the delay, in the sixth, an outfield error with two outs let two runs score to give the Bobcats a three-run lead. The Tigers’ defense tightened up in the seventh, with freshman third baseman Carson Ellis snagging a hot shot and tagging a runner, then rifling the ball to first for a double-play.

But the offense couldn’t get anything going in their last at-bat. They were retired in order.

Blackwell struck out seven in 5-1/3 innings and Greer took over with one out and two on before the two-run error. Shelby Nowell threw one pitch in relief and got the inning-ending double play.

    “We outhit them in both games, so that was kind of unusual,” Parker said, “but we just made a ton of mistakes, and you can’t do that and expect to win.”

The Bobcats (28-4) struck early on a three-run homer by senior switch-hitting catcher Graham Crawford in the first inning. Crawford was a member of several successful Laurel Jones County All-Star teams during his Dixie Youth days before moving to Sumrall. He homered from the left side and drilled a single from the right side in the sixth inning.

The Bobcats will play St. Stanislaus in the next round this week.

The Tigers will return 13 players from this team but lose a core group of seniors — Blackwell, Greer, Harper, Patrick Little, McLeod and Withers.

Parker was proud of them and the rest of his players for battling back after a disastrous 5-6 start to the season. 

“I didn’t think we were even going to make the playoffs,” he said, “but these guys battled.”

Class 2A

Taylorsville was scheduled to host Enterprise-Lincoln (15-8-1) on Monday in the deciding third game of the playoffs.

Taylorsville (21-9) defeated Enterprise 10-0 on Friday, then lost 5-1 in Game 2 on Saturday.

In Friday’s win, freshman Aiden Moffett had three hits, including a home run and scored two runs to lead the Tartars. Kenner Todd and Raven Arrington each had two hits. Arrington blasted a home run.

The winner of this series will play Mize in the third round.

Class 1A

The Stringer Red Devils were scheduled to play Monday against Ethel after the teams split their first two games in the best-of-3 series.

Cayleb Dyess had two hits, including a double, and three RBIs, and Jake Parker had two hits and an RBI as the Red Devils (20-8) defeated Ethel 6-3 in Game 1.

In Game 2, Ethel (20-6) scored five runs over the final two innings to defeat Stringer 7-3 and force the deciding third game.

The winner of this series will play Resurrection Catholic (22-5) in the third round starting Thursday.

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