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Panthers pound Pontotoc 11-0; force 3rd game

PONTOTOC — Road warriors are what the Brookhaven Panthers hadto be to extend the Class 4A State Championship Series to threegames. And that is what the Pontotoc Warriors will have to be towin a state championship.

Excelling in all phases of the game, Brookhaven steamrolled toan 11-0 victory in Game 2 Monday, denying Pontotoc a chance tocelebrate a state championship on its home field, also known as TheHollow.

“They (Brookhaven) just played good baseball tonight,” Pontotoccoach Phil Webb said. “It just didn’t happen for us.”

What will happen is a Game 3 in the championship series, withthe Mississippi High School Activities Association delaying thatcontest until Saturday in Jackson. The game time is yet to bedetermined.

The Panthers (29-8) were a determined team in Game 2 the waythey excelled. At the plate, Brookhaven pounded out 17 hits andscored runs in five of the six innings played. In Pontotoc’soffensive friendly confines, Xavier Quails got Brookhaven’s offensegoing with a solo home run well up the right field hill in the topof the first inning. And from there it was downhill for theWarriors (33-5).

“It was a full-count, and I was looking for a fastball,” saidQualls. “I guessed right.”

Brookhaven had three more hits to score once more in the firstframe. The Panthers went on to score two runs in each of thesecond, fifth and sixth innings and three runs in the third. ThePanthers’ sixth-inning scoring was highlighted by a two-run homerby W.T. King.

“This was just a great night of baseball for us,” Brookhavencoach Randy Spring said. “We were disappointed in our at bats inGame 1 after the third inning.

“Tonight, we came out swinging our bats early and kept it goingthe whole game. And Scotty Smith has already pitched two or threemust-win games in the playoffs for us.”

As excellent as the Brookhaven offense was, Smith (11-2) in hisstarting role was just as impressive.

“I was just trying to throw strikes and win the game,” saidSmith. The senior right-hander scattered four hits while strikingout nine in hurling his six-inning shutout.

“We didn’t have very good at-bats tonight,” Webb said. “I toldthe guys after the game ‘You got beat. Take this game, lick yourwounds, and move on.’

“They know their backs are against the wall, but we’ve done agood job in these situations before.”

Pontotoc starter Josh Robinson (11-3) pitched 4 2/3 innings andtook the loss, giving up 9 of the 11 Brookhaven runs. Tyler Hodgefinished up, leaving Pontotoc Game 1 starter Caleb Kidd well-restedfor Saturday’s championship contest.

Kidd beat the Panthers 6-5 in last Thursday’s game at Brookhavenwhen the Panthers committed 5 errors. Spring was happy with the bigturnaround, especially his team’s defensive effort.

“We played well defensively,” said Spring. “No errors!”

In the fifth, consecutive hits by King, Darius Perkins andQualls loaded the bases. Shortstop Brooks Hall slugged a 2-RBIdouble for a 9-0 lead.

In the sixth, Brookhaven launched a 2-out rally against Hodge.Cody Dunaway singled and King followed with a long home run, makingit 11-0.

King led the Panther offensive with 2 singles, a homer, 4 runsscored and 2 RBIs. Dunaway scored twice and singled twice. Quallshomered, drew 2 base on balls, and was hit twice. Hall singled,doubled, scored a run, and had 4 RBIs.