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Woods throws perfect game; LCHS wins two

POPLARVILLE — Mackenzie Woods tossed the first 7-inning perfectgame in Lawrence County High School baseball history Monday nightas the Cougars claimed wins over St. Stanislaus and Picayune, atPearl River Community College.

Woods’ gem came against St. Stanislaus, a team Lawrence Countyeliminated in the state 4A playoffs last season. He retired 21straight batters, striking out 10 of them. Woods went to a 3-ballcount 5 times in the game, twice in the last inning, but each timehe came through with strikes.

“Mackenzie pitched a great game,” said third-year Cougar coachCory Keyes. “He was able to spot his fastball, and could get hisbreaking ball in the zone whenever he wanted to. They only cameclose to getting a hit once, and Trent’s (Hartzog) nice play tookcare of that.”

Hartzog’s saving play came in the fourth inning, when St. Stansecond baseman Dylan Favre hit a bouncer up the middle. Hartzog,the Cougar shortstop, ranged behind second base, made a niftypickup, and threw off balance to LCHS first baseman NickJackson.

Along with Woods’ 10 strikeouts, the Cougars recorded 6 outs onground balls, 3 on infield popups, and 2 on fly balls to theoutfield.

According to long-time Lawrence County assistant Craig Davis,who has seen virtually every LCHS baseball game, the perfect gamewas the first such occurrence in Cougar baseball history.

“We’ve had a few,” Davis said, “in non-competitive 4 or 5-inningblowouts, against teams that were totally overmatched. But this wasthe first time it’s ever happened in a legitimate, competitive,7-inning game. It was fun to see. I’m sure Mackenzie will rememberthis for the rest of his life.”

Offensively, the Cougars pecked away and slowly piled up runs,putting the unspeakable focus squarely on Woods’ quest for glory.After Lawrence County left the bases loaded in the first, JustinHewitt reached on an error to start the second. He was driven homeby Tyler Reeves’ triple to left center. Reeves then scored onMurphy Peyton’s RBI single.

It was a good night for Reeves, the Cougars’ sophomoreleft-fielder. He got 5 hits, and drove in 4 runs, in thedoubleheader.

In the fourth inning, Reeves and Hartzog had singles, as theCougars extended their lead to 3-0. In the fifth, Justin Hewittsingled home Corey Jones, who reached on an error, making it a 4-0game.

Lawrence County blew the game open in the fourth, as Reeves,Woods, Jones, and Nick Jackson all had singles. Jones’ 2-run singlewas the major blow, as LCHS stretched its margin to 7-0. TheCougars added a final run in the seventh, via 4 bases on balls.

Along with Reeves’ 3 hits, Murphy Peyton added 2. Hewitt, Jones,Woods, Jackson, and Hartzog each got 1. Cougar catcher ZacharySummers reached base 4 straight times by walks or hit batsman.

In the late game, the Cougars took on Picayune.Both teams went deep into their pitching rotations, as it was thefourth game in 3 days for each. The combination of Corey Jones andNathan Case proved to be a winning combo for Lawrence County.

Jones worked 3 and 1/3 innings to earn the win. He allowed 5runs on 3 hits, while striking out 4 and walking 5. Case enteredand turned the lights out on the Maroon Tide. He retired 8 of the 9Picayune batters he faced, to record a save.

“We were a little pitched out,” head coach Keyes said, “butCorey got us into the fourth inning with a chance. His location wasa little erratic, but he battled. Nathan was outstanding.”

The Cougar bats came alive against Picayune. Five different LCHShitters had multiple hits, led by Joseph Evans. Evans went 3-for-3,with a single, a double, and a triple. Reeves, Jones, Woods, andSummers each had 2 hits. Jones, Woods, and Summers each drove in 2runs.

Trent Hartzog, Justin Hewitt, and Murphy Peyton also hadhits.

“We swung the bats pretty well,” Keyes said. “Granted, Picayunewas pretty pitched out, too, but our guys took care of theirbusiness and started hitting a few line drives.”

In the top of the first, Hartzog and Woods had singles as theCougars grabbed a 2-0 lead. Picayune responded with a 3-run bottomof the first, with the Maroon Tide getting the only 3 hits theywere to get in the game.

Singles by Hewitt and Reeves, and a Zachary Summers groundoutproduced the Cougars’ tying run in the top of the second, butPicayune scored with the benefit of a hit in the bottom of theinning, and led 4-3.

Reeves singled home Jones in the third, knotting the game at3-3. In the top of the fourth, Evans, Summers, and Jones all hadhits, and Mackenzie Woods had a sacrifice fly, as the Cougarsgrabbed a 7-4 lead.

When Jones walked 3 of the first 4 Picayune hitters in thebottom of the fourth, Keyes called on Case, and the juniorright-hander came through. He pitched out of a major jam,preserving a 7-5 Cougar lead.

Evans had a double and Summers, a single in the fifth, withEvans scoring the Cougars’ eighth run on a Hartzog grounder. TheCougars put the game away in the sixth. Woods and Peyton hadsingles, and Evans tripled, as Lawrence County scored 3 moreruns.

With the wins, Lawrence County improved to 3-1 on the youngseason. The Cougars will play West Jones on Thursday, at Laurel.LCHS will open Division 6-4A play at Florence Saturday.