• 66°

Britts provide big spark; Hornets sting N. Forrest

Jared Britt and Jody Britt provided a 1-2 punch Thursday night,directing the host Loyd Star Hornets to a 6-2 triumph over theNorth Forrest Eagles in the opening round of the Class 2A statebaseball playoffs. Jody slapped a 3-run homer in the fifth andJared pitched a 4-hitter as the Hornets took a 1-0 lead in thebest-of-three series.

Loyd Star (21-7) travels to Hattiesburg tonight to play theEagles (16-8) in a 7 p.m. contest. If a third game is necessary todecide the series, it will be played Saturday at Loyd Star,starting at 1 p.m.

Jody Britt and Blake Wall, Loyd Star’s two senior members of thesquad, were recognized during a pregame ceremony. Britt’s homer,his 10th of the season, was a line drive over the left field fence.It caused a brief protest from North Forrest coach Brian Freemanwho thought it was a ground-rule double.

“It was a low curveball,” said Britt. He had been struck outtwice by Eagle pitcher Ben Wade (6-2).

“(Wade) was a good pitcher,” said Britt. “He got his spots realgood,” recording 13 strikeouts and just 1 base on balls.

Loyd Star head coach Sidney Wheatley said the home runcontroversy, overseen by home plate umpire Jimmy Wright, wascorrectly settled. “It (homer) was obvious it went over the yellowrailing. I think the ump saw it bounce after it had landed over thefence.”

Wheatley said he was proud to see his team take a 1-0 lead inthe series. “I’m happy to be up but we must play better down there.We didn’t play particularly well in the field and we struck out toomuch. I want our batters to be aggressive at the plate. Ben Wadepitched a great game.”

Wheatley reserved special praise for Jared Britt (7-2), a juniorsouthpaw. “Jared was outstanding on the mound. His curveball wasgood and he gave us a big lift.”

Britt struck out 8 Eagles, walked 2 and hit 1. When NorthForrest loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning, heworked his way out of the jam.

Loyd Star second baseman Cody Cunningham made a running scoop ofa ground ball and flipped it to first baseman David Cuevas to endthe game. Cunningham also led off the game with a solo homer overthe double-decker wall in right field.

“Cody stepped up big for us tonight,” said Jared Britt. “Thathome run got us going.”

Wade, a junior right-hander, launched a solo homer in the secondinning to tie the score at 1-1.

In the bottom of the second, Loyd Star took a 3-1 lead it neverrelinquished. Cuevas was safe on a throwing error and JustinWhatley followed with a double down the left field line. TylerWilliford’s sacrifice fly to right scored Cuevas and Cunninghamproduced an RBI single to center.

Wade fanned 5 of the next 6 batters he faced before the Hornetscame to life in the fifth. Williford singled up the middle andCunningham drew a base on balls, setting the stage for Jody Britt’s3-run shot.