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LCHS rocks Petal

PETAL — David stepped up to the plate and slew Goliath. TheLawrence County Cougars upset the top-ranked Petal Panthers 8-4 inopening-round regional 4A playoff action Friday night at Petal CityPark.

LCHS broke open a 2-2 game, exploding for 5 runs in the top ofthe fifth. Petal then stranded 6 base runners in its final 3at-bats as Lawrence County held on for the shocking victory.

With the win, Lawrence County claimed a spot in the winners’bracket in what is a 4-team, double-elimination tournament.

In the other opening-round game, Pearl River Central edgedMcComb 10-9.

Lawrence County improved to 16-12 with the win. The win was thefirst in 12 tries for Lawrence County coach Chris Clark against hisalma mater.

Clark will leave the coaching profession effective the end ofthe season as he assumes a full-time position with the MississippiNational Guard.

“This was a big win,” Clark said, “but it was a big win for ourteam, not for me. Obviously, this place has played a big role in mylife, but right now, all I can think about is trying to win thistournament and advance in the playoffs. We’ve still got a long wayto go but we’re happy to get this first win.”

The Cougars got the win by pitching out of trouble. Three Cougarpitchers — Luke Watts, Casey Williams, and Klein Harbour allowed 9hits, walked 8, and hit a batter. But the senior trio managed topitch out of one jam after another.

Petal left the bases loaded in the third then left 2 runners onin each of the last 4 innings. Also, the Panthers lost 3 runners onthe bases in the first 2 innings.

“We hurt ourselves with all the walks,” Clark continued, “butotherwise, everything went as well as it could have for us. For themost part, we made the plays defensively and we got some timelyhits.”

In the top of the first, Harbour, Williams, and JonathanStephens put together singles to give Lawrence County a 2-0 lead.Petal bounced back for 1 run in the bottom of the second. But inthe first 2 innings, the Panthers lost 3 runners on the bases. LCHScatcher Jake Russell threw out a base stealer and picked a runneroff first base. Cougar center fielder Michael Thompson threw out aPetal runner attempting to advance from first to third on asingle.

Petal tied the game at 2-2 in the third. Williams relievedCougar starter Luke Watts in that frame. Harbour later relievedWilliams in the sixth.

It remained 2-2 until the fifth. Trent Hartzog put LawrenceCounty on top with an RBI single. Harbour then made it a 4-2 with asacrifice fly to center. The big blow, however, was a booming 3-runhomer hit by Cougar left-fielder Jonathan Stephens.

After that, the Cougars relied on some clutch pitching andexcellent defense, particularly from Luke Watts, who moved to thirdbase after leaving the pitchers’ mound. Watts also had an RBIdouble that provided an insurance run in the seventh inning.

Stephens, Williams, Hartzog and Marlon Stanfield led LawrenceCounty with 2 hits each. Harbour, Watts and Michael Thompson eachhad 1.

Chris Pierce and Stephen Lansdale led Petal, 26-3, with two hitseach. Starting pitcher Brandon Ingram worked 4 and 2/3 innings, andwas saddled with the loss.