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Smith hobbles Mustangs; Panthers edge West Jones

Senior pitcher Scotty Smith provided a courageous performance onthe mound and the Brookhaven Panthers overcame seven errors to edgethe West Jones Mustangs 7-6 Thursday night on Moyer Field in theopening game of the South State Class 4A Championship Series. Smithstruck out Wesley Johnson for the final out in the top of theseventh inning as the Mustangs left the tying run on first baseafter a 3-run rally.

Brookhaven (27-6) plays at West Jones (23-8) Saturday in GameTwo of the best-of-three series. Game time is 1 p.m. If a thirdgame is necessary, it will be played Monday night on MoyerField.

“I’ll be ready for Saturday or Monday,” said Smith, a large icepack resting on his right shoulder after the game. “We had too manyerrors but we still beat a good team.”

The Mustangs fell behind 5-0 in the second inning but battledback into contention. In the seventh, an RBI single by Brett Hyattscored Fernando Goldman with the Mustangs’ 4th run. Adam Saulripped a 2-RBI single to left field and it was 7-6. Smith gotJohnson swinging and a capacity crowd began heading for theexits.

“That was a lot more fun than it needed to be,” said Brookhavencoach Randy Spring. “Thank goodness Scotty was on tonight. Hebattled like a bulldog and made the pitches to keep them (Mustangs)from exploding when we made those errors.

“We were fortunate to beat a very good West Jones team tonight,”Spring said.

Smith finished with 9 strikeouts and walked only 1 batter,giving up 8 hits.

West Jones coach Wade Clark said his team never quit. “Our kidskept right on fighting, even when they got behind. Brookhaven justoutplayed us tonight. Their pitcher located well and reallycompeted.”

Clark used three pitchers last night. Brandon Davis started onthe mound and went 1.2 innings, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits,striking out 1 and walking 1.

Trey Sutton replaced Davis in the second inning and the Panthersleading 3-0. Xavier Qualls greeted Sutton with an RBI single toright field. Darius Perkins scored on a double steal, making it5-0.

Qualls, a senior centerfielder who has been selected to play inthis summer’s Class 4A-5A All-Star game, finished with 2 hits and astolen base.

“We played hard tonight,” said Qualls. “When push came to shove,we got the job done.”

Brookhaven first baseman Grant McDonnieal got the Panther fanscheering in the bottom of the first inning. After an RBI single byAdam Ogden, McDonnieal smashed a full-count pitch from Davis overthe left field fence, 320 feet from home plate. It was McDonnieal’sfirst homer of the season.

“Grant really picked us up with that homer,” said Smith.”Everybody has been working hard this week.”

In the fourth frame, West Jones ended Smith’s shutoutperformance. Moore doubled over the first base bag. After Smithfanned the next 2 batters, Saul reached on an error and Johnsonslapped an RBI single to center, reducing the deficit to 5-1.Another Panther fielding error and it was 5-2.

In the fifth, Ogden and McDonnieal singled. Brookhaven courtesyrunner Marlon Dixon scored the sixth run on a throwing error. JoshPatrick’s grounder scored courtesy runner Guy Orr with the seventhrun, making it 7-2.