Lawrence County wins in 15 innings

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2005

MONTICELLO — The Lawrence County Cougars defeated the TerryBulldogs 6-5, in 15 innings, Monday night, in one of the mostintense and dramatic games ever played at Jimmie Davis Park.

The two teams, playing for the Division 6-4A lead, battled foralmost 5 hours. They tied at 4-4 for almost 3 hours, before MichaelThompson’s 2-out, 2-run homer in the bottom of the 15th sent theCougar fans home happy. Terry had broken the 4-4 tie with a singlerun in the top of the inning.

With the win, Coach Cory Keyes saw his Cougars improve to 10-2overall, and 3-0 in Division 6-4A play. Terry fell to 3-1 in thedivision. An exhausted and emotionally drained Keyes had nothingbut praise for his players.

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“It was a very special night,” Keyes said. “We had so many shotsat winning the game, then it looked like it was going to be aheartbreaking loss.

“For Michael to come up with that stroke, with 2 outs and a2-strike count, it’s almost unbelievable,” Keyes added. “Ourplayers played with heart and intensity for almost five hours. Thesame can be said for Terry’s kids. It’s hard to believe that weactually played 15 innings.”

The game had everything — 4 home runs, 41 strikeouts, greatdefensive plays, courageous pitching efforts and lots ofcontroversy.

The game had plenty of close and contested calls, but one stoodout. With Terry batting in the top of the 15th, with 2 out, DustinWinkler grounded to deep second base. When the long throw to firstwent awry, Bulldog Jess Shelby scored the tie-breaking run. Thecontroversy came moments later, when Terry right-fielder AnthonyDixon, one of Mississippi’s top returning football players, alsotried to score.

Dixon leaped over the tag of Lawrence County catcher ZacharySummers, and was originally ruled safe. After a conference ofumpires, however, Dixon was ruled out.

Terry coach Jerry Gibson protested vehemently, but the out callstood. Terry led by just 1 run, and that set the stage forThompson’s dramatic, 2-run game winner.

Though the game will be remembered for a game-ending, walk-offhomer, the courageous efforts of 4 pitchers — 2 for each team–cannot be overstated. For Lawrence County, Joseph Evans worked 9innings. He allowed 4 runs on 5 hits, and struck out 15. In the10th, Jake Russell moved from catcher to pitcher. In 6 innings, hestruck out 11, while allowing just 3 hits, and walking 3. Russellgave up only the unearned run in the 15th.

“Joseph was throwing well, and probably had a couple moreinnings in him,” said LCHS assistant coach Craig Davis, “but 9innings are enough for a high school pitcher. Then, for Jake tothrow 6 effective innings, after catching 9 innings, is justincredible.”

Terry’s pitchers were equally as impressive. Starter Adam Cookwent 8 1/3 innings. He gave up 12 hits, but pitched out of jamafter jam, stranding 13 Cougars in the first 7 innings of thegame.

Sophomore Charlie Shearer entered in the ninth. He shut theCougars out until Thompson’s fateful swing. The Bulldog duocombined for 15 strikeouts.

Lawrence County took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, whenTaebyus Smith doubled home a run. It was the first of 5 hits in thegame for Smith. Terry responded in the top of the second, with a2-run homer from first baseman Kevin Berry.

Terry centerfielder Jess Shelby made it a 3-1 game in the third,homering over the center field wall. Lawrence County cut theBulldog lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning, but Shelby hitanother solo homer, a mammoth blow, in the top of the fifth. Terryled 4-2. After that, Evans and Russell shut the Bulldogs down.

In the bottom of the fifth, Nick Jackson singled home a run tomake it a 4-3 game. In the sixth, Smith had an RBI single to knotthe game at 4-4. It would stay that way for a long, long time,though the Cougars would have their share of chances.

Lawrence County left runners in scoring position in fourinnings, then left the bases loaded in the seventh. The Cougarsagain left a runner in scoring position in the ninth, and had thepotential game-winner thrown out at the plate to end the bottom ofthe eleventh. Pinch runner Murphy Peyton, attempting to score on aJeremy Williams single, was thrown out by Bulldog right fielderAnthony Dixon.

Russell pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the 14th, strikingout 2 Terry hitters with the potential lead run at third base.Zachary Summers, who entered the game at catcher when Russell wentto the mound, had multiple run-saving block-ups in the inning.

Terry finally broke the 4-4 tie in the top of the 15th, only tohave Thompson snatch the victory away in the bottom of theinning.

“It’s only one ball game,” assistant coach Davis said, “in along 29-game season, but it was a special night. Some of these guyswill probably be telling grand kids about this one 50 years fromnow.

“Our players weren’t the only ones that came through tonight,”he continued. “We had a huge crowd, and most of them actuallystayed to the end, though they may pay for it tomorrow. You don’toften see that many people up and about on a Monday night, atmidnight, in Monticello.”

Smith’s 5 hits, in 8 at-bats, led Lawrence County. Evans,Stephens, Jackson, Russell, and Williams each had 2. Thompson andMarty Ballard also had hits. Shelby had 3 of Terry’s 8 hits.

Junior Varsity Action

Mackenzie Woods and Corey Jones combined to shut out Terry, 6-0,in junior varsity play. Zachary Summers had 2 hits.