WOW! Lawrence Co. clips Petal in 14

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 8, 2006

MONTICELLO – Two of the top five teams in the state met Saturdayafternoon at Jimmie Davis Park. No. 3-ranked Lawrence County hostedNo. 1 Petal in Game 1 of the South State Class 4A SouthChampionship series. Through a 14-inning marathon that included anhour, 35-minute rain delay, the Cougars prevailed 5-2 over thePanthers on a 3-run homer by senior rightfielder Taebyus Smith inthe bottom of the 14th.

Game 2 of this series is set for Monday in Petal City Park at 4p.m. If a third game is needed, it will be played Wednesday inJimmie Davis Park at 6.

Lawrence Co. 5, Petal 1

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“A great game was played today,” said Cougar Head Coach CoryKeyes. “It was a great atmosphere for baseball.”

Both teams exhibited some outstanding defensive plays in the5-hour contest. The pitching staff for LCHS and Petal did amasterful job on the mound.

The Cougars (30-4) drew first blood in their half of the fifth.Third baseman Mackenzie Woods reached on an error. Catcher ZacharySummers singled. With 1 out, Trent Hartzog was hit by a pitch thatloaded the bases. With 2 outs, Smith’s sharp single to center fieldscored Woods and Summers for a 2-0 LCHS lead.

The Panthers (31-3), ranked No. 7 in the USA Today Super 25 highschool baseball poll, realized a 2-2 deadlock in the top of thesixth. Centerfielder Dustin Langley reached on a Cougar error.Second baseman Trey Mitchell walked. With 2 outs, shortstop DarinFerris doubled to score Langley and Mitchell.

LCHS’ Jake Russell and Petal’s Matt Warren worked extra innings.Warren was relieved by Pearl River Community College signee TylerWatkins in the 11th.

Russell went the distance (14 innings), allowing 2 unearned runson 6 hits. The Co-Lin signee walked 4 and fanned 12 Petalbatters.

“Jake worked 14 innings today,” said Keyes. “He never had ahigh-pitch or a bad inning.”

“Our pitching and our defense did an outstanding job today,”added Keyes. “Toby (Taebyus Smith) got a big hit for us.”

In the bottom of the 14th off of Watkins, the LCHS bats went towork. With 1 out, second baseman Joseph Evans reached on afielder’s choice. Shortstop Trent Hartzog singled.

With 2 outs, Smith stepped to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch, Smithsent a blast over the right field fence that also scored Evans andHartzog; thus igniting a most jubilant Cougar celebration at theplate and sending LCHS fans home with smiles on their faces.

Smith, who also had 2 singles and drove in all 5 Cougar runs onthe day, recalled the game-winning hit.

“It was a fastball outside about waist high,” said thesoft-spoken Smith who has signed a football scholarship withCo-Lin. “I just wanted to get a base hit.”

Petal veteran head coach Larry Watkins declined comment afterthe game. The Panthers were led by Darin Ferris with 2 doubles and2 RBIs.

Due to overcast skies, the field lights were turned on at thestart of the 1 p.m. contest. The game was halted in the top of thethird inning, with no out. A steady drizzle became a downpour,sending fans in search of a dry place. LCHS players and coacheshustled to cover the mound, home plate and portions of the infieldwith tarpaulins.